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.
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.
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.”