Joy Neville is going to the 2023 Rugby World Cup as a Television Match Official. What people may not know is that Joy has 70 caps for Ireland, won a Grand Slam and is now an official referee and that is how Joy want’s to be known.
However, Joy has come to notoriety within the mens rugby circles as the first female to ref a senior mens professional rugby match and subsequently the first female to ref a mens international. What Joy would like society to focus on is the fact that she is there on merit, because of her skills and ability as a ref, not because she is a woman. Joy is determined to represent her family and friends in the most positive way, and to do so it means preparing as best as she possibly can.
That is why Joy is quoted for saying “THE WORK STARTS NOW” – there will be moments in the upcoming World Cup where ref and TMO decisions will come into question, the most important thing for Joy is to know that she has done everything possible to perform on the world stage.
Joy aims to pave a way for others to become a referee. Our chat is more than just sport, we speak about Joy’s family, the recent loss of her fantastic Dad, the challenge she had sharing her sexuality with family and friends and the anxiety and fear she built up over 12 years.
Now married and with a wonderful son, Joy is a prime example of how to be a good human being. She takes time to reflect on her actions, her initial responses to ensure she is prepared for the next similar interaction and be proud of her response.
This conversation unpacks a lot of areas that may not be so well known and Joy’s honesty is a breath of fresh air. Thank you Joy and good luck at the World Cup. You are without a doubt there on merit as one of the best referees in the world.