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First Female Referees to Officiate Men’s International Rugby

Here at The Sure Bettor we have a strong passion for sport. We place a lot of our matched bets on different sporting events across the globe. Despite our passion we think that sport as a whole needs to do more to involve women. Whether that’s in the competitions available, at the root stages of a sport or the publicity of existing competitions.

Granted, there are some sports that are working hard on this. Football is a good example. A number of Premier League and lower division clubs have a women’s team which compete in leagues similar to the mens game. The Women’s Super League 1, which has 10 teams, is the women’s equivalent to the Premier League.

However, some sports hardly have any women taking part at all. Look at Motor Racing for example. This is a sport that is still dominated by men. There are very few competitions for women and the ones that do exist get no publicity.

We seem to live in a society that is accustomed to and accepts only men as professional sports people. This ideology couldn’t be more wrong. Women at the top of their game are incredibly skilful and arguably better than a number of their male counterparts.

Women In Rugby

Recently, Rugby Union went against this philosophy. Two women have been put in charge of refereeing separate men’s International Rugby matches in October 2017.

This is the first time women have refereed a men’s international match and it’s a big step for women and sport as a whole.

The first game, where Finland take on Norway will be officiated by Alhambra Nievas on 14th October. The two teams are playing in the Conference 2 division of Rugby Europe. The second game will be refereed by Joy Neville where she’ll take charge of the Norway vs Denmark game two weeks later on 29th October.

The idea that women want to play rugby makes many people, both male and female, cringe. Due to its inherent physical brutality it’s one of the last sports many people think women should get involved with. However, it’s one of the sports that is making the most of both male and female players.

Alhambra Nievas

Nievas, from Spain, is not new to the rugby scene. She spent eleven years as a professional rugby player and was included in the Spanish national team for three seasons.

In 2016 Nievas won the 2016 World Rugby referee award alongside another female referee. She is a very well respected official both on and off the field.

Joy Neville

A little closer to home, Joy Neville, was the captain of the Womens Ireland team. She was also a Six Nations grand slam winner with the same Irish team. She’s no stranger to refereeing either. In the Summer of 2017 she took charge of the Women’s Rugby World Cup where New Zealand beat England.

Last season, Neville became the first female assistant referee in a men’s European match when Bath played Bristol in the Challenge Cup.


It’s great to see that these two referees have been involved with the game for so long. They’ve obviously got a huge passion for the sport and are happily changing history along the way.

Do you have any stories to celebrate women’s involvement in sport? We’d love to hear them and share your thoughts with our online community here at The Sure Bettor!

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