Nigel Owens: Welsh referee retires from international rugby after taking charge of 100 Tests


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Nigel Owens, the referee with the most appearances in international matches, has brought an end to his Test career.

The 49-year-old’s first international was Portugal’s meeting with Georgia in 2003.

“Nobody has a divine right to go on forever,” Owens said.

“There comes a time where it’s time to move on, so international refereeing will come to an end now. That France v Italy game was my last Test match. To go out on 100 is a good time to go.”

The 100th international landmark was only the latest achievement in Owens’ long and illustrious career.

He refereed the 2015 Rugby World Cup final as well as several European club finals, and has become a household name thanks to his rapport with players on the field and his media appearances.

He is respected across rugby union as one of the world’s finest referees.

Although his long spell in the international game is over, Owens says he hopes to continue refereeing in the Pro14 as well as locally in Wales this season and possibly in the 2021-22 campaign.

Nigel Owens surpassed Jonathan Kaplan as international rugby's most-capped referee when he took charge of his 71st Test, between Fiji and Tonga, in 2016.
Nigel Owens surpassed Jonathan Kaplan as the referee with the most international appearances when he took charge of his 71st Test, between Fiji and Tonga, in 2016

“I will certainly continue to referee in the community game because when you are very fortunate to get so much out of something, I think it’s hugely important that you give something back to it as well,” he said.

“I’ll also be going into a coaching role with the WRU [Welsh Rugby Union], helping some of our talented, young referees we have here in Wales, so that is something I’m quite excited about.

“We currently have five referees including myself refereeing at Pro 14 level so it will be exciting to help them make further progress, as well as our other upcoming male and female referees.”

WRU chairman Rob Butcher has described Owens as a role model “not only for his refereeing but his communication and the way he conducts all aspects of his life”.

“It’s a truly fantastic achievement for a referee to get to 100 caps,” Butcher said.

“Moreover, Nigel has always been and still is a fantastic ambassador for Welsh rugby throughout the world.”

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