Nigel Owens

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Nigel Owens
Nigel Owens (born 18 June 1971 in Mynyddcerrig, Llanelli, Wales) is a Welsh international rugby union referee. He is an international and Heineken Cup referee and was the only Welsh referee at the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France,[1] as well as the '2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

Owens was born and raised in a small village called Mynyddcerrig in the Gwendraeth Valley in South Wales and he is a fluent Welsh language speaker. He was a school technician at Ysgol Gyfun Maes Yr Yrfa Cefneithin and youth worker with Menter Cwm Gwendraeth.

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 v 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.

He is one of the presenters on Jonathan, a rugby-themed Welsh language chat show, broadcast on S4C on the eve of big international matches. He also co-presents the sports-themed Welsh language chat show Bwrw'r Bar.

In November 2008 he released his autobiography in Welsh called Hanner Amser ("Half Time"). The English-language version was launched at the end of October 2009. In 2011 he was made a member of the Gorsedd of Bards.[2]

Personal life

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.[3]

"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 Stonewall's gay awards ceremony in London.[4]

He was a patron of the LGBT Centre of Excellence Wales, until its disbandment in late 2012.

He was made president of the Wales Federation of Young Farmers Clubs in 2010 [5]

He was ranked number 87 in the Pink List 2011 and 93 in the Pink List 2012. The Pink List 2012 citation said:

"Nigel Owens is an international rugby union referee who came out in 2007 and has appeared in two World Cups, in 2007 and 2011. Earlier this year, he made more headlines by reprimanding Treviso's Tobias Botes with the words 'This is not soccer!', a phrase now printed on T-shirts."[6]


Partly based on a Wikipedia article.

  1. "Welsh ref Owens on World Cup list"
  2. "Gorsedd honour for Gillian Clarke and Nigel Owens" bbc nEWS, 8 June 2011
  3. Nathan Bevan "Ref's gay torment" Wales on Sunday 20 June 2007
  4. { "World Cup rugby ref's gay award" BBC News 2 November 2007