Helen O'Reilly joins Ireland's national referees panel

Helen O'Reilly
Helen O'Reilly is rated as one of the top female referees in the world

Helen O'Reilly has become Ireland's first top-level female referee in a move that could eventually see her officiate in Pro12 and European Champions Cup matches.

The Irish Rugby Football Union has made O'Reilly, 39, the first female appointment to its national panel.

Dubliner O'Reilly officiated at this year's women's World Cup in France.

"Helen's appointment is based solely on merit," said the IRFU's referee development director Owen Doyle.

"As the first female referee to make the panel she must be congratulated."

The women's World Cup official has been hailed as one of the best female referees and will now step up to take charge at Ulster Bank League matches.

"Her hard work, dedication and strong refereeing performances have propelled her into the top handful of female referees in the world and into the national panel here in Ireland," added Doyle

Nottingham solicitor Claire Hodnett earlier this year became England's first female referee to join the Rugby Football Union national panel.

Former Ashbourne RFC and St Mary's RFC player O'Reilly has been refereeing for less than four years.

After completing women's Six Nations duties, O'Reilly was one of just two female northern hemisphere referees at this year's women's World Cup.

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