Citing Commissioner Helen O’Reilly hailed the progression of rugby officiating as an all-women’s team of match officials prepares to take charge of the EPCR Challenge Cup clash between Scarlets and Toyota Cheetahs on Friday.

Ireland’s O’Reilly will be part of the historic line-up comprised of referee Hollie Davidson (Scotland), assistant referees Sara Cox (England) and Clara Munarini (Italy), and TMO Claire Hodnett (England).

The Round 3 contest sees Pool B leaders Scarlets welcome South African outfit Toyota Cheetahs to Llanelli, and will be another key landmark in EPCR competitions.

“I think it’s great,” O’Reilly told EPCR. “I would’ve worked with all the girls when I was refereeing so to see us all back together in some capacity on the pitch on Friday is fantastic.

“I think it’s fantastic for female officials and the progression of the game as well, to be able to push somebody in every different field, whether it be the referee, the AR (Assistant Referee), the TMO or myself, it’s great.

O’Reilly noted that having women as ARs, as well as in judiciary roles, such as Citing Commissioner and TMO, is another key step forward from simply having a female referee.

“I think we would have predominantly said ‘great, there’s a female referee’, and now we have the female referee supported by the ARs,” she explained.

“But then off the pitch as well, to go into judiciary, like myself into citing, and Claire into TMO, you can just see where females are going into all different areas of rugby. To me, that’s a really good sign.”

An added bonus for O’Reilly is that she has worked with those in her officiating team in various roles and competitions in the past, making Friday’s game a particularly special moment.

“When I got the appointment and I saw the names of the different officials, [I realised] I would’ve refereed with both Sara and Claire at the World Cup in 2014,” she said.

“Hollie and Clara, I would’ve worked with at the Six Nations as well, either I’m at the line, or as referee, or vice versa.

“To be able to come back in as a crew together, and work together, and to work with them in the past, is brilliant.”

Despite Friday’s landmark moment, O’Reilly maintained that there will be no added pressure and that the officials will approach it like they would any other game.

“To me, it’s just another game,” she said. “It’s nice that the girls are on it, and it’s more for the progression of the game to be able to see [a woman] in each capacity.

“I know for the raw professionals, it won’t be any added pressure. They’re refereeing two different colours, that’s all.”

O’Reilly went on to acknowledge the unique atmosphere the EPCR Challenge Cup provides and revealed that the switch from domestic competitions is one she enjoys.

“It’s a fantastic competition,” she stated. “Even myself, I go to games as a supporter. It’s always a nice competition to be involved in.

“You have your Premiership or your URC, but going into Europe, it’s a mix of different teams that wouldn’t be playing week in, week out.

“Even as a referee, when it’s European rugby on a weekend it’s that little bit more special.”

O’Reilly also reflected on South African clubs debuting in EPCR competitions this season, recognising the added quality they have already provided, though she assured that officials will be unfazed by the incoming star names

“To see teams coming in from all different countries is fantastic. When you look at what the South Africans can bring to any competition, it’s great, it adds another element.

“I think to see South African teams come in, it’s just lifting the standard of the competitions the whole time.

“Rugby is rugby, and you go out and you prepare for everything that’s on the pitch, no matter who it is.

“You just have your set preparation regardless of countries or players that are playing. You approach the game the same.”