Ode to Joy, the World Cup history maker

Limerick’s Joy Neville represents Ireland as a TMO at the Rugby World Cup in France. Photo: Ben McShane.

JOY Neville of Limerick created a slice of Rugby World Cup history when she became the first female match official to be involved in a fixture, namely as Television Match Official (TMO) at the Italy v Namibia clash in Saint-Étienne.

Interestingly, the outing was refereed by Welsh-born but Limerick-based Andrew Brace (35), who previously lined out with Old Crescent in the All-Ireland League and in relatively recent times worked as a Community Officer for Munster Rugby.

Former International Neville (40) is highly experienced and was most notably in charge of the 2017 Women’s World Cup Final between England and New Zealand in Belfast.

She is one of only seven TMOs in France and is set to retire at the end of the tournament.

Also representing Ireland as officials at the World Cup are Chris Busby and Brian MacNiece.

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

“Having four officials is a significant step forward for the IRFU (Irish Rugby Football Union) from the Japan World Cup where Ireland had no match referees and Andrew Brace was our only representative, where he was an assistant referee,” noted Bernard Jackman in a Sunday Independent column.

Ahead of the event, Chairman of the Match Officials Selection Committee, Graham Mourie, said of the officials heading to France: “Like the players, they have earned their place on merit and have worked incredibly hard, making many sacrifices to be in contention for selection.”

“These men and women are not only representing their nations, they are also representing the global officiating fraternity and truly are ‘everyone’s team’, playing their full part in enabling players to perform to their best at our pinnacle men’s event and we should all get behind them.”

Mayorstone native Tady Walsh (who now lives Quimper in France) is a Sideline Manager at the global competition.

Meanwhile, Limerick pair Craig Casey (Shannon) and Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemian) are both likely to be involved in Ireland’s meeting with Tonga at Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes, on Saturday (kick-off 8pm).

Unlike Keith Earls (Young Munster) and Conor Murray (Garryowen), neither appeared in the Group opening round  82-8 destruction of Romania in Bordeaux.