Joy all around at Shannon as World Rugby Referee of the Year returns
03 December 2017
There was more than festive cheer at Shannon Airport at the weekend as Joy Neville stepped back into the happiest of homecomings with her World Rugby Referee of the year award.
On a weekend when 2,000 children and their parents flocked to the airport for the annual Santa Flights, the world’s top referee was the cause of a great cheer in the arrivals hall as family and friends greeted her return.
Neville, who was capped 70 times for Ireland, created rugby history at the World Rugby Awards gala ceremony in Monaco by becoming the first female winner of the award. She was the only Irish winner in the awards.
It capped an amazing year for the mould breaking Limerick woman who, across 2017, also officiated at the Women’s Rugby World Cup final in August, refereed a senior men’s international game, became the first women to officiate in a Champions Cup game and signed a professional contract with the IRFU.
The proud Limerick woman beamed as she steeped off her flight and walked into the arms of a proud homecoming troupe that included her wife Simona, her parents Ger and Mary.
Congratulating Joy on the success, Shannon Airport Managing Director Andrew Murphy said: “We’ve had a lot of big moments at the airport this year but being able to welcome Joy in is right up there with the best of them. To win any world best award is an incredible achievement but when you break the mould like she has, it really sets you apart. She is an inspiration to all of us.”
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