Former Ireland international Joy Neville will make history in December when she becomes the first woman to referee a European professional club fixture when taking charge of the Challenge Cup, Round 4 match between Bordeaux-Bègles and Enisei-STM.
Neville was previously appointed as assistant referee in the Champions Cup, Challenge Cup, Continental Shield and Guinness PRO14, and she took charge of the Women’s Rugby World Cup final between New Zealand and England last August.
The Limerick woman, who won 70 caps Ireland caps and was an integral part of the Women’s Six Nations Grand Slam win in 2013, will go into the record books when she referees the Pool 1 game at Stade Chaban-Delmas on Friday 15th December.
Joy Neville’s is one of 40 referee appointments for Rounds 3 and 4 of the 2017-18 Champions Cup and Challenge Cup. She will also officiate as an assistant referee at the Barbarians v Tonga game at Thomond Park this Friday night as well as at the Spain v Canada and the France v Japan internationals later this month.
There are a number of Irish referee appointments in Round 3 on the Champions and Challenge Cup respectively. Welsh-born Andrew Brace, who represents the IRFU, takes charge of Toulon v Bath in Pool 5, while former Munster Rugby player John Lacey has been appointed to referee La Rochelle v Wasps in Pool 1.
In the Challenge Cup Cork’s Frank Murphy will referee Worcester Warriors v Oyonnax in Pool 5 with his fellow Irishman Seán Gallagher travelling to Scotland for the Edinburgh v London Irish clash in Pool 4. Dubliner JP Doyle, who works under the RFU in England, is appointed for the Pool 2 all-French clash of Toulouse and Lyon.
As well as the historic Joy Neville appointment in Round 4 of the Challenge Cup, Seán Gallagher and David Wilkinson will also officiate in the competition. Gallagher will be in charge of Pau v Agen in Pool 3, while Enniskillen-born Wilkinson referees the Pool 4 game between Edinburgh Rugby and Krasny Yar.
Four Irish referees have been appointed to Champions Cup games. Irish-born JP Doyle will referee the Pool 3 game between Montpellier and Glasgow Warriors; Andrew Brace takes charge of the Pool 5 clash between Benetton and Scarlets; Limerick’s George Clancy will be the man in the middle for Wasps v La Rochelle in Pool 1, while John Lacey will be in France for ASM Clermont Auvergne and Saracens (Pool 2).