Owens and Neville to make officiating history

November will see history created for match officials with Nigel Owens set to become the first to take charge of 100 test matches and Joy Neville the first female to perform TMO duties for a major men's international competition.
  • Nigel Owens set to become the first referee to take charge of 100 test matches
  • Joy Neville becomes first woman to perform TMO duties in a major men's international competition
  • Karl Dickson and Mike Adamson set to referee first major international matches
  • Appointments regionally based, recognising the ongoing impact of COVID-19

Nigel Owens is set to become the first person to take charge of 100 tests when the Welshman referees France versus Italy in the Autumn Nations Cup in November.

The Rugby World Cup 2015 final referee will take charge of two matches in the new competition to reach the milestone, 17 years after his test debut in February 2003 when he was in the middle for Portugal versus Georgia. 

Meanwhile, Ireland’s Joy Neville, the Rugby World Cup 2017 final referee will also make history, as the first female to perform Television Match Official duties in a major men's international competition when Wales face Georgia and Scotland take on Fiji in the same competition, having impressed in recent elite club rugby competitions. 

Both Owens and Neville are past recipients of the World Rugby Referee Award, the Welshman in 2015 and the former Ireland international in 2017. 

Other notable achievements include former Harlequins scrum-half Karl Dickson taking charge of his first major test when France play Wales on 24 October. 

Former Scotland sevens player and Rio 2016 referee Mike Adamson has also been handed his first major match when England face the Barbarians at Twickenham on 25 October, while Nika Amashukeli will become the first Georgian assistant referee in a major international competition.

Confirmation of the milestones comes as World Rugby announced selection for matches within the temporary international calendar for 2020, including the rescheduled men’s and women’s 6 Nations, the Autumn Nations Cup and the Bledisloe Cup competitions.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW APPOINTMENTS >>

With various travel and quarantining restrictions limiting global movement, match officials will come from regional hubs and will be regularly tested for COVID-19 while following measures that maintain a bubble environment. 

This means matches in the northern hemisphere will be officiated by northern hemisphere-based referees, while matches in the southern hemisphere will be refereed by match officials from the southern hemisphere.

As a result of this environment, the two Bledisloe Cup matches between Australia and New Zealand, hosted in New Zealand, will be refereed by non-neutral referees, with New Zealander Paul Williams taking charge of the first match on 11 October and Australia’s Angus Gardner, another former World Rugby Referee Award recipient, refereeing the second on 18 October. The approach was agreed with the support of the respective unions and their coaches.

Appointments for The Rugby Championship will be made in due course.

Newly-appointed chairman of the selection committee Graham Mourie said: “This has been a difficult year for society and sport, and therefore these appointments are an important milestone in returning our sport back to normality with much-needed and anticipated test rugby.

“These selections are geographical in nature to accommodate ongoing travel and quarantine restrictions and the officials will be subject to regular COVID-19 testing in line with World Rugby’s return-to-play protocols.

“The selectors have been impressed with how match officials have maintained focus and fitness during the lockdown and in their performance since the restart, particularly in the area of the breakdown. Lockdown afforded the group time to recalibrate and refocus on on-field priorities and we look forward to seeing everyone back in action next month.” 

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont added: “On behalf of everyone at World Rugby, I would like to say a big congratulations to Nigel Owens on selection for his 100th test. It is a remarkable achievement and testament to his passion for refereeing, his character, unwavering dedication to the highest possible performance and fitness standards and his adaptability over an impressive career that has so far spanned 17 years. It will be a massively popular milestone for the sport to celebrate. 

“In addition, we would like to congratulate Joy Neville on her TMO appointments. As part of World Rugby’s transformational women’s strategy, we are committed to accelerating development of women in rugby through diversifying and normalising women in leadership positions, both on and off the field. Joy, like all the appointed referees, has earned this opportunity and we look forward to watching the referee panel back out officiating the game at the highest level.”

Last updated: Sep 24, 2020 2:48:24 PM
Women's Rugby World Cup trophy
Women's Rugby World Cup News Tournament News Women in Rugby mz-advisory women-news-2021 RWC2021
Date set for Rugby World Cup 2021 Draw
Rugby World Cup 2021 Draw will take place in Auckland on Friday, 20 November, 2020
Emily Scarratt breaks French line
Women's News Tournament News Women in Rugby women-news-regions
Women’s Six Nations: What’s to play for
With the Women’s Six Nations 2020 set to resume, we take a look at what’s at stake for the competing nations.
Photo of Andrea Di Giandomenico,  Italy Women head coach, talking to his players after the 2020 Women's Six Nations match between Wales and Italy at Cardiff Arms Park
Women's Men's Rugby World Cup News Women in Rugby women-news-2021 RWC2021
Six Nations, Autumn Nations Cup and Rugby World Cup qualifiers: Steyn and Franco on Italy’s return to international rugby
Braam Steyn and a youthful-looking Azzurri side are ready to cause an upset as international rugby resumes. Giada Franco and her Azzurre teammates have it all to play for as RWC 2021 qualification looms. Here both players reveal their preparations for an exciting series of fixtures.
Photo of the Women's Six Nations Trophy
Women's News Women in Rugby
Take our Women's Six Nations quiz
How much do you know about the northern hemisphere’s premier women’s international competition?
Ireland v Wales - Guinness Six Nations
Women's News Tournament News Women in Rugby women-news-2021 RWC2021
Ireland plotting Six Nations, Autumn Nations Cup and Rugby World Cup qualification success
Andy Farrell and Adam Griggs face a busy few months as Ireland’s men and women each compete on two fronts.
RWC 2017 - New Zealand v Hong Kong, Portia Woodman
Women's News Awards Women in Rugby
Vote for the World Rugby 15s Players of the Decade
Rugby fans across the world have up until 25 October, 2020 to vote for their World Rugby Men’s and Women’s 15s Players of the Decade.
Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu
Women's News Women in Rugby women-news-regions women-news-power
Heather-Latu makes history as first woman chair of Oceania Rugby judiciary
Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu speaks about her love of rugby and the honour of becoming the first woman chair of Oceania Rugby’s Judicial Committee.
World Rugby Awards Special Edition - Voting
Women's Sevens Men's News Awards Women in Rugby
World Rugby Awards Special Edition: Fans’ Choice voting now open!
Voting will remain open until 25 October, as supporters are given the opportunity to have their say on six Fans’ Choice categories at a special virtual edition of the World Rugby Awards.
Beth Onesemo at a Pacific Region meeting
Women's News Women in Rugby women-news-regions women-news-power
Beth Onesemo striving for gender equity in Samoan rugby
The World Rugby Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarship recipient, who serves on the Samoa Rugby Union board, believes attitudes are beginning to change for the better.
World Rugby logo - one to use for generic releases
Women's Sevens Men's News Women in Rugby mz-advisory women-news-power
Players, female leaders and greater global representation on interim World Rugby committees
Rassie Erasmus, Melodie Robinson, Conrad Smith and Bryan Habana are among a host of leading players and coaches who have been appointed to World Rugby interim committees.