Alhambra Nievas The Granada 1983 Vintage Is Still Breaking Down Barriers

Beas de Granada is located in one of the most beautiful places around Granada with panoramic views southwards towards the Sierra Navada.

The town is steeped in history from the time of the Roman Empire, where it grew from being a coach house at a crossroads, to becoming a farmstead with just twenty families when under Arab rule.

It is situated 1072 meters above sea level and is part of the Parque Natural de la Sierra de Huetor.

So what has this to do with rugby I hear you ask ?, well this delightful town is the family home of one of the world’s best rugby referees Alhambra Nievas.

The tractor driving, olive harvesting referee never forgets her roots, quite literally come harvest time, the olives have been plentiful as indeed has her rugby harvest.

Some referees like fine wine just seem to get better with age and this 1983 vintage shows no sign of deterioration and is looking better than ever.

Incorrectly listed, much to her delight, as 28 years of age in the official Womens Rugby World programme, Alhambra actually reached the tender age of 34 on the very day the tournament started in Dublin.

Taking charge of the World Cup semi final, at the Kingspan stadium, in Belfast, between New Zealand and USA was a huge thrill for her and her team, and undoubtedly yet another highlight of what has already been a glittering career.

The ultimate team player, it was wonderful to witness her genuine delight for friend and refereeing colleague, Joy Neville, when she was awarded the World Cup Final between England and New Zealand.

Radio, television and other commitments have made things hectic, after the tournament, with not much down time, and never one to rest on her laurels, Alhambra has successfully completed the World Rugby Educator Course, in Romania, resulting in global recognition as a trainer.

Anxious to give back to the sport what the game has given to her, the humble and modest

lady from Granada would not be aware that she has already given far more back to the game, to its values, and to encouraging young women in sport, than she could ever have received in return, but now she will able to officially use her talents to assist others intent on taking up the whistle, and in improving standards both regionally and internationally.

Once again we talk about another breakthrough for women in rugby, and once again Alhambra Nievas is involved.

On October 14th she will take charge, of Finland v Norway in the Rugby Europe International Championship, the first woman to referee a men’s game in this competition.

So whilst the folks back in Beas de Granada celebrate the pilgrimage to the chapel of the virgin del pilar del colmenar, along with the neighbouring residents of Huetor Santillan, Alhambra will be 2086 miles further north in Helsinki, preparing for the match.

It is doubly good news for women’s rugby as Joy Neville will referee the match between Norway and Denmark a few days later.

The breakthroughs don’t end there, in yet another first Alhambra will be the first non Commonwealth referee to officiate at the rugby 7s on the Gold Coast, Australia, in the Fifteenth Commonwealth Games next April.

Six nations duty will hopefully be on the cards after christmas, after her superb handing of last years decider in the Dublin monsoon, between Ireland and England, and then there is the mouth-watering prospect of the Rugby World Cup Sevens Tournament in San Francisco.

Before all that Alhambra, as well as attending to domestic refereeing duties in Spain, undertaking Women’s World Sevens duties in Dubai, and only last week was in Marcoussis, near  Paris, for two days, along with fellow whistling amigo Iñigo Atorrasagasti, as a member of the panel of referees for the prestigious European competitions under the auspices of the EPCR.

Unlike many fine wines the 1983 vintage travels well, but there is no doubt that the native soil of Beas de Granada beneath her feet gives her the perfect balance to the busy grassy rugby fields of the world.

Vamos amigo




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