Ireland's Joy Neville named World Rugby Referee of the Year

Former Irish rugby player Joy Neville has tonight been named the World Rugby Referee of the Year for 2017, writes Steve Neville.

The ex-player retired in 2013 and has since gone on to forge a successful career as a referee.

It's been a hugely successful year for Neville who took charge of her first international fixture, between Norway and Denmark, and she is also set to make history next month.

Earlier in November, it was announced that Neville is to become the first woman to referee a top-level European club match when she takes charge of the Challenge Cup clash between Bordeaux-Bègles and Russia's Enisei-STM.

Neville also refereed the Women's Rugby World Cup final between New Zealand and England in Belfast in August.

Picking up her award, Neville said: "I retired in 2013 after we won the Grand Slam and to think that I'm stood here after refereeing the Women's World Cup Final...

"I have a lot of people to thank for that and a lot of organisations but it's mostly down to my beautiful wife Simona and my family.

"I’m completely honoured to be here, to receive this and I thank you and everyone who has supported me throughout this journey."

Neville added that being a trailblazer in the world of rugby is something she enjoys.

"It's all about knocking those hurdles down," said Neville.

"It's all about breaking the barriers and creating opportunities for other females or males or whatever it is to come through."

"I thoroughly enjoy a challenge and once you're enjoying what you're doing, keep at it and I'm really enjoying what I'm doing right now."

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