Welsh referee Nigel Owens has no intention of hanging up his whistle just yet.
The 48-year-old was set to call time on his officiating career at the Rugby World Cup but refereeing the All Blacks-England semi-final at the World Cup has convinced Owens to extend his refereeing career ‘for a while yet’.
In his column for Wales Online, Owens says that despite his age, he still feels on top of his game but that he is unlikely to at the Rugby World Cup in France in 2023, in what would be his fifth World Cup.
‘The probability is the England v New Zealand semi-final was my last at a global tournament and if it does turn out that way, then I can think of worse ways to leave the big stage,’ wrote Owens.
‘It’ll be a push to make it through to the tournament in France in 2023, but what I’m going to do is just keep refereeing and see what my performance level is like. I just feel that in so many careers, people are too quick to write off those with miles on the clock.
‘For me, experience counts. I don’t want others saying that my decisions are not what they were, or that I’m not keeping up with play as I used to. I will be the first to know if my standards are slipping and I will act accordingly.
‘Just like players, referees should be judged on performance, not on age. If you’re good enough, you’re good enough. It doesn’t matter what the figures say about your age.’
Owens pulled his hamstring during the semi-final in Yokohama and was consequently forced into the fourth referee role for the decider between the Boks and England.
‘I think I’m still on top of my game and the selectors at the World Cup were pleased with my efforts, awarding me a quarter-final and a semi-final,’ continued Owens. ‘So I will see how things pan out.
‘I’m always happy to receive advice, especially from those I respect, and the feedback I have received from a lot of people has been positive during and after this World Cup.
‘So cancel the parties, those who want to see the back of me — I’m not going anywhere for a while yet!’