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Joy Neville makes history as first female official at World Cup

NEWS: Irish referee Joy Neville will become the first woman to officiate at the men’s Rugby World Cup after being named on the 26-person panel by World Rugby on Wednesday.


The 39-year-old, who refereed the women’s World Cup final in 2017, will operate as one of seven Television Match Officials for the September 8-October 28 tournament in France.

Neville won 70 caps for Ireland as a player before turning to refereeing and has since taken change of numerous men’s matches.

She became the first female TMO for a top-level men’s Test when she officiated the Autumn Nations Cup match between Wales and Georgia in November 2020 and has gone on to do TMO duty in the men’s Six Nations.

In an interview with Think Business, Neville recently said: β€œIt is my hope that sport and business appreciates the value of having women involved at every level of the decision-making process, not just because of a balance quota or target but because they can see the value that females bring to a situation or company.”

Wayne Barnes is the most experienced of the group of 12 referees.


The Englishman has whistled a record 102 Tests and will appear in his fifth-straight Rugby World Cup in the country in which he debuted in 2007.

Meanwhile, Nika Amashukeli will also make history as the first Georgian to officiate at a Rugby World Cup.

Hosts France provide just two of the 26 officials with Mathieu Raynal among the 12 referees and Pierre Brousset operating as a touch judge.

Jerome Garces, who blew the 2019 final between South Africa and England, has since joined Fabien Galthie’s set-up as France attempt to win the World Cup for the first time on home soil.


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