Ireland’s Joy Neville will make history next month by becoming the first woman to referee a European professional club fixture when she takes charge of the Challenge Cup round 4 match between Bordeaux-Bègles and Enisei-STM.
Joy Neville, who won 70 caps for her country including a Six Nations Grand Slam in 2013, will go into the record books when she referees the Pool 1 game at Stade Chaban-Delmas on Friday, December 15.
The former Ireland Women’s captain is one of 40 referee appointments for rounds 3 and 4 of the 2017/18 Champions Cup and Challenge Cup announced today by a selection committee chaired by Joel Jutge, EPCR’s Head of Match Officials.
Neville has already been appointed as an assistant referee at Champions Cup, Challenge Cup, Continental Shield and GUINNESS PRO14 levels, and she also took charge of the Women’s Rugby World Cup final between New Zealand and England in August, as well as refereeing last month’s Norway v Denmark men’s international in the Conference 2 North division of Rugby Europe.
In advance of her Challenge Cup debut, the Limerick woman will officiate as an assistant referee at the Barbarians v Tonga game at Thomond Park this Friday, and at the Spain v Canada and the France v Japan Test matches later this month.
Meanwhile, the Champions Cup will come to boiling point with the key back-to-back fixtures in December, and the round 3 clash of last season’s finalists, Saracens and Clermont Auvergne, will be refereed by Nigel Owens of Wales with Ireland’s John Lacey taking charge of the return match between the Pool 2 heavyweights at Stade Marcel-Michelin.
France’s Romain Poite will be in the middle for the eagerly-awaited meeting of Exeter Chiefs and Leinster – both unbeaten in Pool 3 – while his compatriot, Pascal Gauzère, has been appointed to the round 4 showdown at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.
High-flying La Rochelle are up against Wasps in Pool 1 and Lacey will referee the round 3 match at Stade Marcel Deflandre with his IRFU-contracted colleague George Clancy in charge of the round 4 fixture at the Ricoh Arena.
The back-to-back matches between Toulon and Bath, who have two wins apiece at the top of Pool 5, will be handled by Ireland’s Andrew Brace and Owens respectively.
Along with history maker Neville, her IRFU compatriots Sean Gallagher, Frank Murphy and David Wilkinson also have Challenge Cup refereeing appointments to look forward to next month, with Gallagher pencilled in for two games – Edinburgh v London irish and Pau v Agen.
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