People are thrilled that Ireland's Joy Neville won World Rugby Referee of the Year

Joy Neville has won World Rugby’s Referee of the Year at a ceremony in Monaco.

The former Ireland international was the first female to head-referee a top-level European game. She has also overseen the Women’s World Cup final and a men’s international game.

Neville told reporters after the World Rugby Awards ceremony: “If you asked me three years ago whether this was even a possibility… I probably would have said ‘not a hope’.”

The Limerick referee retired from playing professional rugby in 2013 after helping Ireland to the Six Nations Grand Slam title.

Since then her astronomic rise in the world of refereeing has encouraged women and girls across the game, many of whom shared their delight for her on Twitter.

“It’s all about knocking those hurdles down,” she said on receiving the award.

“It’s all about breaking the barriers and creating opportunities for others.”

It looks as if Neville’s trajectory is going to continue towards the stars. Her next goals are to head-referee in the Pro 14 league, and the Six Nations.


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