In a male dominated sport Joy Neville has proved there is space for a women to not just partake but excel in the sport on the same level as their male counterparts if given the opportunity.
It seems hard to believe that in 2018 it's news for there to be a female referee within a male sport. What are the reasons that a woman couldn't referee the game? In order to referee you need to be an expert on the rules, have a level head, be mentally strong and not be easily swayed and last time I checked they weren't qualities that just men could hold.
It has been seen in recent years within football too with Sian Massey-Ellis running the line in the Premier League and seems like it can only get better for women at a high level in sport. As Sian recently said in an interview with Sky Sports 'As long as I keep doing my job, it doesn't matter if I'm a woman or a man' and that's a very difficult point to disagree with.
If a man can manage the national women's football team why can't a woman referee in the men's Premier League? With the success of many national female teams in recent years, notably the football team reaching the world cup semi-final and the Netball team clinching gold at the Commonwealth Games there is a change in tide in the opinion and perception of female sport and it's pioneers like Neville and Massey-Ellis that are needed in this often male dominated world.
Joy Neville never wanted to be a referee. The former Ireland rugby captain had only just retired – euphoric after winning the Six Nations in 2013 – and was planning some quality time with her family when the IRFU’s referee development manager, David McHugh, called and asked if she would consider a career change. “Absolutely not,” came her reply, “I thought it was a thankless job.” But McHugh would not let it go. So Neville picked up the phone to one of the most senior and respected men she knew in rugby union and asked him if he thought a woman could ever referee the top men’s division in Ireland. He said: “Joy, not in my lifetime.” “So I called Dave back and said: ‘Right, I’m in,’” chuckles the 34-year-old.