|Owens officiating the 2009 English Premiership match between Bath and Leicester Tigers|
|Date of birth||18 June 1971|
|Place of birth||Mynyddcerrig, near Cross Hands, Carmarthenshire, Wales|
|Occupation(s)||Rugby union referee|
|Rugby union career|
Rugby World Cup
2015 Rugby World Cup Final
Nigel Owens MBE (born 18 June 1971) is a Welsh international rugby union referee. He is an international and European Rugby Champions Cup referee and was the only Welsh referee at the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France and at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. He was referee for the 2015 Rugby World Cup final in England.
Owens was appointed as an international referee in 2005, and that year officiated at his first tier 1 international between Ireland and Japan in Osaka. Owens made his World Cup debut on 11 September 2007 in the match between Argentina and Georgia in Lyon, France. He is one of only two referees to be appointed to referee two consecutive Heineken Cup finals: Munster v Toulouse at the Millennium Stadium in 2008; and Leicester Tigers v Leinster at Murrayfield in 2009. He has since done a third and fourth final Leinster v Ulster at Twickenham 2012, and Toulon v Clermont in Twickenham in 2015 this as well as two European Challenge Cup finals makes a total of a record six European finals, making him the most capped referee in European competition. In June 2016 he became the most experienced international referee after taking charge of a Fiji v Tonga Rugby World Cup qualifying game.
He is also known as a TV personality, as one of the presenters of the S4C chats shows Jonathan and Bwrw'r Bar. Owens also hosts his own quiz programme Munud i Fynd. In 2011 he was made a member of the Gorsedd of Bards.
Owens was born and raised in the village of Mynyddcerrig, near Cross Hands in Carmarthenshire, Wales. He is a fluent Welsh speaker. He was a school technician at Ysgol Gyfun Maes Yr Yrfa Cefneithin and a youth worker with Menter Cwm Gwendraeth. Before that he worked on a farm for over a year as a farmhand. His autobiography, Hanner Amser (Half Time), was published in Welsh in 2008, then in English in 2009. In 2011 he was made a member of the Gorsedd of Bards. He was a patron of the LGBT Centre of Excellence Wales, until its disbandment in late 2012, but he is still that of the Wooden Spoon Society rugby charity. In 2013 Owens became a patron of Bullies Out charity in Wales. He served at various times as secretary, chairman and president of the Wales Federation of Young Farmers Clubs. Owens is a fan of Wrexham Football Club.
Owens was appointed as an international referee in 2005, and that year officiated his first international between Ireland and Japan in Osaka. Owens made his World Cup debut in Lyon, France on 11 September 2007 in the Argentina vs. Georgia match. He is only one of two referees ever to be appointed to referee two consecutive Heineken Cup finals: Munster v Toulouse at the Millennium Stadium in 2008 and Leicester Tigers v Leinster at Murrayfield in 2009 and has since refereed another two finals in 2012 Leinster v Ulster and Toulon v Clermont in 2015. In 2015 he did the triple crown in refereeing, refereeing the 2015 European Final, Pro12 Final and then the World Cup Final all in the space of 5 months.
He is one of the presenters on Jonathan, a rugby-themed Welsh language chat show hosted by former Welsh international Jonathan Davies, broadcast on S4C on the eve of big international matches. He co-presents the sports-themed Welsh language chat show Bwrw'r Bar and now has his own show, the quiz programme Munud i Fynd. He is an after-dinner speaker.
In May 2007, Owens publicly came out as gay in an interview with Wales on Sunday. Although reactions have been generally positive, he says it was a difficult decision to make and that he had even contemplated suicide.
"It's such a big taboo to be gay in my line of work, I had to think very hard about it because I didn't want to jeopardise my career. Coming out was very difficult and I tried to live with who I really was for years. I knew I was 'different' from my late teens, but I was just living a lie."
Shortly after the 2007 Rugby World Cup, Owens was named 'Gay Sports Personality of the Year' at gay rights group Stonewall's awards ceremony in London. In 2015 he was named 'Gay Sports Personality of the Decade' at Stonewall awards ceremony in London.
In 2015 Owens was appointed as the referee for the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final between New Zealand and Australia at Twickenham. At 44 years old, Owens was the oldest of the 12 referees. The match saw the first yellow card in a Rugby World Cup final. Writing in The Independent, Michael Calvin said: "Nigel Owens deserved the honour of controlling the Rugby World Cup final, since he is the best referee in any of our major sports. The antithesis of a rulebook automaton, he is authoritative without being condescending and balances sharp comment with quick humour."
Owens announced on 3 November that he intended to keep officiating in international rugby for another four years.
- "Welsh ref Owens on World Cup list". icWales. 27 April 2007. Archived from the original on 16 March 2008. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- "Who is Rugby World Cup final referee Nigel Owens - and why does everyone rate him so highly?". The Daily Telegraph. 31 October 2015. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
- "Gorsedd honour for Gillian Clarke and Nigel Owens". BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation). 8 June 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
- Pickup, Oliver (13 November 2014). "Nigel Owens target of homophobia: 12 things you might not have known about the Welsh international referee". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- Owens, Nigel (3 July 2014). "Nigel Owens: Football and rugby could benefit from one captain's challenge per match...and why Luis Suarez MUST issue a sincere apology". Wales Online (Media Wales). Retrieved 7 March 2015.
- "Rugby ref Nigel takes over as YFC president". Wales Online (Media Wales). 22 September 2009. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- Owens, Nigel (11 June 2014). "Nigel Owens column: FIFA must stamp down on play-acting at Brazil 2014 or it could filter into rugby too". Wales Online (Media Wales). Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- Bevan, Nathan (20 May 2007). "Ref's gay torment". Wales on Sunday. Archived from the original on 27 May 2008. Retrieved 16 July 2007.
- "World Cup rugby ref's gay award". BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation). 2 November 2007. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
- "Nigel Owens to referee New Zealand-Australia Rugby World Cup final". The Guardian. Press Association. 27 October 2015. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
- Michael Calvin (31 October 2015). "RWC Final 2015: What has sexuality got to do with it? Nigel Owens is the best referee around | News & Comment | Sport". The Independent. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
- "Nigel Owens: World Cup final referee to continue until 2019 - BBC Sport". Bbc.co.uk. 3 November 2015. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
- The London Gazette: . 11 June 2016.
- Rugby World Cup 2007 match official appointments set IRB.com
- Welsh ref Owens on World Cup list IcWales.co.uk
- Owens appointed as international ref
- Gay referee to officiate at Rugby World Cup – PinkNews.co.uk
- Quiz the Ref: Nigel Owens – BBC Sport, 15 March 2006