Limerick woman to make history at 2023 RWC

The Limerick woman is one of four Irish representatives in the 31 strong referees panel for the tournament in France later this year.

Limerick’s Joy Neville will make history at this year’s RWC as the first female to officiate at a men’s Rugby World Cup, taking her place as a TMO.

Neville will be joined by four other Ireland Rugby Officials in Andrew Brace who is named in the Referee panel, Chris Busby in the Assistant Referee panel and Brian MacNeice in the TMO panel.

“We are also extremely proud of Joy as the first female Match Official to be selected to officiate at a men’s World Cup.”

Dudley Phillips

Neville made history in 2018 as the first female to officiate a game in the Pro14, taking charge of the clash of Ulster and the Southern Kings. The previous year she was named the World Rugby Referee of the year for 2017.

All-Ireland League Division 1A, Lakelands Park, Dublin 2/11/2018 Terenure College vs Dublin University Referee Joy Neville Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Speaking about the appointments, IRFU Head of Referees Dudley Phillips commented,

“We are very proud to have 4 Match Officials appointed to represent the IRFU at Rugby World Cup 2023 which is the result of the hard work & dedication of our entire team on and off the field.

“To be selected to represent your country at a World Cup is the pinnacle of an athlete’s career, which very few get to experience.

With Andy Brace being selected for a second World Cup he continues to cement himself as a leading referee. Joy, Chris & Brian continue to rise through the ranks and are rewarded with their first selections to a World Cup. We are also extremely proud of Joy as the first female Match Official to be selected to officiate at a men’s World Cup.


Nika Amashukeli (Georgia), Wayne Barnes (England), Nic Berry (Australia), Andrew Brace (Ireland), Matthew Carley (England), Karl Dickson (England), Angus Gardner (Australia), Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand), Luke Pearce (England), Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Mathieu Raynal (France), Paul Williams (New Zealand).

Assistant Referees

Chris Busby (Ireland), Pierre Brousset (France), James Doleman (New Zealand), Craig Evans (Wales), Andrea Piardi (Italy), Christophe Ridley (England), Jordan Way (Australia).

Television Meatch Officials

Brett Cronan (Australia), Tom Foley (England), Marius Jonker (South Africa), Brian MacNeice (Ireland), Joy Neville (Ireland), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Ben Whitehouse (Wales).

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