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Helen O’Reilly becomes the first female to officiate in the Guinness Pro12

  • Helen O’Reilly has made rugby history by becoming the first female to officiate in the Guinness Pro12
  • O’Reilly has risen swiftly through the ranks and was appointed to the Irish Rugby Football Union’s national referee panel in December 2014
  • She took her career to the next stage by running the line in Munster’s clash with Zebre on Friday night
Helen O’Reilly became the first female to officiate in a Guinness Pro12 game when she ran the line at Thomond Park on Friday evening.

A referee who is consistently breaking new ground in the game of rugby, O’Reilly has previously refereed at the Women’s Rugby World Cup and in Ulster Bank League matches in Ireland, which is a level below the Pro12.

But her appearance on the line in Munster’s 47-0 thrashing of Zebre means she is now one step closer to taking charge of a game in the cross-border competition, which would be ground-breaking for the sport.

I’ve always been asked if I want to go into the Pro 12 but I have to go through the process I’ve been doing,” O’Reilly said last year.

“It has served me right so far. It would be fantastic but I would never fall into the trap of saying that’s what I’m looking for because my focus is the game next week and the game after that.

“I’ve very much kept my ambitions on the next game.”

O’Reilly is a former player with Ashbourne RFC in Ireland and is one of around 60 women refereeing adult men’s rugby in the United Kingdom.

Alongside England’s Claire Hodnett, Reilly is leading the charge in the female refereeing world and while she is remaining cautious about her development, the appearance in last Friday’s game is a big development.

Should she continue to impress as an assistant referee O’Reilly could then take charge of a Pro12 game as the main official in the near future in what would be another ground breaking move.