Irish referee Joy Neville 'extremely honoured' to make rugby history in November

Despite creating history, Neville is taking it all in her stride
Irish referee Joy Neville 'extremely honoured' to make rugby history in November

Joy Neville was the assistant referee for last weekend's Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final match between Leinster and Saracens. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Joy Neville is to create history in November as she will be the television match official for a men's game in the upcoming Autumn Nations Cup.

The trailblazing Limerick whistler will take on the duties of the TMO for the clash of Wales and Georgia on November 21.

A week later she will have the same role for the clash of Scotland and Fiji.

"I got a phone call from Paddy O'Brien (the World Rugby high-performance 15s match officials manager) to inform me that I'd been selected to be involved in the Autumn internationals," she explained.

While she admits the call came as a surprise, she added she was "extremely honoured" by the appointment.

Despite creating history, Neville, who was in charge of the Women's Rugby World Cup final in 2017 is taking it all in her stride.

"To be honest, it's probably when I look back when I'm finished that I'll probably properly comprehend and understand my achievements but for now, it's just about going in there and doing a job and doing it well," she said. 

She added that it is important now to do a good job and "not be remembered for the wrong reasons".

"My priority now is to get as much practice as I possibly can.

"The last thing we want is a try, no try situation where there is a clear foot in touch and it hasn't been scrutinised or looked at so (I) just need to get the job done and do it right.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont congratulated Neville on the achievement, saying she "earned this opportunity".

"As part of World Rugby's transformational women’s strategy, we are committed to accelerating development of women in rugby through diversifying and normalising women in leadership positions, both on and off the field," he said.

"Joy, like all the appointed referees, has earned this opportunity and we look forward to watching the referee panel back out officiating the game at the highest level."

Neville was the first female referee to take charge of a Pro14 match in 2018.

Meanwhile, Nigel Owens will also be creating history in the autumn. When the Welshman takes charge of the game between France and Italy he will become the first man to referee 100 Test matches.

"It wasn't something I was chasing," he admitted, adding he was very aware when he overtook Jonathan Kaplin to become the most capped referee.

"If you're the first one to reach that, it's something special"

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