Nigel Owens rugby player
Nigel Owens rugby player

Nigel Owens

18th Jun 1971 0.00m/kg Referee

Having previously worked as a farm-hand, a youth worker, and a school technician, Owens' professional career with the whistle would begin in the early 2000s. His first time officiating, however, was in an Under-15s match in 1987 at the age of 16, a clash that would launch his reputation as one of the best rugby referees of all time.

Owens made his European debut in the 2000–01 Challenge Cup season when he took charge of London Irish and Piacenza on 21 January 2001. Seven months later he became one of the first three Welsh Rugby Union professional referees.

His hunger to take control of big matches saw him take the field for his Test debut in 2003 when Portugal beat Georgia 34-30 in Lisbon.

Owens' refereeing style, witty remarks, and classic one-liners have become a thing of legend in rugby, racking up thousands of views on YouTube as well as putting some of the world's biggest sportsmen in their place.

In 2016, he made history as a world record-breaker when he took charge of his 71st international match in the World Cup qualifying match between Fiji and Tonga, eclipsing the previous record of 70 held by South Africa's Jonathan Kaplan.

By then he had refereed in the major stadiums in world rugby, including 16 Six Nations matches, 12 Rugby Championships, and three European Cup finals.

In December 2019 he historically refereed his native Wales for the first time after receiving special dispensation from World Rugby.

Owens has developed into one of the most respected match officials in the game's history.

(LS May 25, 2020)