Joy Neville to be first woman to officiate at men’s Rugby World Cup

Joy Neville is one of 26 officials named for this year’s Rugby World Cup

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Ireland’s Joy Neville is set to become the first female to officiate at a men’s Rugby World Cup after being selected as a television match official (TMO) for this autumn’s tournament in France.

Neville, who won 70 caps for Ireland as a player, is named as part of a 26-strong officiating team.

The 39-year-old took charge of the 2017 Women’s World Cup final between England and New Zealand and became the first female TMO for a top-level men’s rugby union Test in November 2020.

Four English referees (Wayne Barnes, Luke Pearce, Karl Dickson and Matt Carley) are among a group of on-field officials that also includes Nika Amashukeli, who will be the first Georgian to referee at a World Cup.

“The journey to Rugby World Cup 2023 is not an easy one for match officials,” said World Rugby’s officiating chief, Joel Jutge. “There are fewer roles with as much public scrutiny, but I am proud of how the team has responded to the ups and downs, always being open and acting with integrity.


“Selection is one milestone, and we have a lot of work to do before the start of the tournament with warm-up matches and The Rugby Championship.

“But this team has a great work ethic, an unwavering spirit and a great bond and we will all benefit from increased time together as we prepare for what will be a very special Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.”

The panel of officials includes representatives from nine nations, with Barnes set to referee at a fifth consecutive men’s World Cup.

Englishman Wayne Barnes will referee at a fifth consecutive men’s Rugby World Cup

Experienced South African Jaco Peyper, who will oversee next weekend’s Champions Cup final between Leinster and La Rochelle, will take charge at a third tournament.

This year’s final will see a new face at the helm, with 2015 referee Nigel Owens having retired since the last World Cup and Jerome Garces, referee as England lost to South Africa four years ago, now part of France’s coaching staff.

The 26 officials will share 48 tournament matches in France, with the appointments for the pool stages to be confirmed after the completion of this summer’s warm-up fixtures.

The 2023 World Cup begins in Paris on 8 September and ends on 28 October.

2023 Rugby World Cup match officials:

Referees: 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 Match 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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