World Rugby has announced the match official appointments for the 2018 Women’s Six Nations Championship, which kicks off on Friday, February 2. IRFU referees Joy Neville and Sean Gallagher will take charge of three matches between them, with Kevin Beggs and Brian MacNeice also involved as TMOs.
Following a ground-breaking year for Women’s rugby on and off the field, there is huge anticipation ahead of what promises to be a hugely competitive Six Nations tournament.
World Rugby Referee of the Year and Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 final referee, Joy Neville, will referee two matches, Scotland v England and France v England – a repeat of the gripping Ireland 2017 semi-final, which set a Women’s rugby broadcast record of over three million.
Neville made history last night by becoming the first woman to referee a European professional club fixture when she handled the Challenge Cup round 4 match between Bordeaux-Bègles and Enisei-STM at Stade Chaban-Delmas.
She took to Twitter today to thank EPCR and the tournament organisers for ‘giving me the opportunity to referee Bordeaux-Bègles v Enisei-STM’. “A wonderful display of rugby by both sides. Honoured to be given such an opportunity. A memory I will cherish,” she added.
The Limerick woman, who played 70 times for Ireland and was a key member of the Grand Slam-winning side in 2013, made her Six Nations refereeing debut in March 2016 when she had the whistle for Wales v Italy. Her achievements in 2017 have included refereeing a men’s 15s international for the first time – Norway v Denmark in October.
In total, 12 of the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 match officials team are selected for Six Nations duty, including Spain’s Alhambra Nievas who took charge of the Women’s Sevens final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Sean Gallagher, the 28-year-old Navan clubman, will have the honour of refereeing the 2018 Women’s Six Nations opener between Wales and Scotland in Colwyn Bay on Friday, February 2. Both Neville and Gallagher were among the seven match officials who took up professional refereeing contracts with the IRFU this season.
Adam Griggs’ first game in charge of the Ireland Women – away to France in February’s opening round – will be refereed by England’s Ian Tempest, with the girls in green’s other Championship fixtures to be officiated by Tim Baker (Hong Kong), Sara Cox (England), Tempest again and Nievas.
Scotland’s Hollie Davidson makes her Six Nations refereeing debut following strong performances in both Sevens and 15s. The selections were made after a comprehensive review of refereeing performances by the World Rugby Match Officials Selection Committee at its recent meeting in South Africa.
World Rugby High Performance 15s Match Official Manager Alain Rolland said: “Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 saw excellent standards of match officiating by a team of well-prepared match officials.
“We now bounce into the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup cycle with a Six Nations selection that features a strong blend of world class international experience and the best emerging talent. All have earned their selection on performance and merit.”
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