Joy Neville named World Rugby Referee of the Year

President Michael D Higgins praises Joy Neville for'fitting and well-deserved achievement

President Michael D Higgins praises Joy Neville for'fitting and well-deserved achievement

JOY NEVILLE HAS been awarded the World Rugby Referee of the Year award for 2017.

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

Joy Neville received the award for referee of the year at a gala awards dinner in Monte Carlo after a fantastic year for the Limerick native.

She was the referee for the Women's Rugby World Cup final, became the first female referee of a senior men's worldwide game and also became the first woman to officiate in a Champions Cup game.

This month she is acting as assistant referee for three men's matches, having recently signed a professional contract with the IRFU.

Neville started her refereeing career after her retirement following Ireland's Grand Slam win in 2013 and has wasted no time in reaching the top of the tree in terms of officiating as she took charge of the Women's World Cup final earlier this year.

Speaking after collecting her award from former Austrailian scrum half George Gregan, Neville said: "It's awesome". "I retired in 2013 after we won the Grandslam and to think that I'm stood here after refereeing the Women's World Cup final and I've a lot of people to thank for that". I'm completely honoured to be here to receive this award tonight.

"It's all about breaking the barriers and creating opportunities for other females or males or whatever it is to come through". Asked about her next goals as a referee, she highlighted her ambition to referee in the GUINNESS PRO14 and to officiate in the Six Nations Championship.

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