Nigel Owens MBE is the most-capped referee in world rugby.
Additionally, he is the first openly gay man to referee at the highest level.
Nigel was born and raised on a council estate in Mynyddcerrig, Wales. At the age of 16, he picked up a referee whistle, and the rest is history.
He refereed his first international game in 2005 in Osaka between Ireland and Japan.
Nigel made his World Cup debut in 2007 refereeing Argentina v Georgia.
Owens is the only rugby referee to officiate at three consecutive Heineken Cup finals.
Nigel has also refereed a record six Pro14 finals.
In 2015, he refereed the Rugby World Cup Final between New Zealand and Australia at Twickenham.
Nigel refereed at his fourth consecutive Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019.
Nigel Owens Quotes – Top 5
Aside from his fantastic rugby refereeing knowledge and skills, rugby fans enjoy Nigel’s firm but fair and often entertaining interaction with the players. Some of Nigel’s top on-pitch quotes, one-liners and best-bits include:
- This is not soccer – is that clear?
During a Munster vs Bennetton Treviso game, Treviso scrum-half Tobias Botes complained that Munster captain Paul O’Connell wasn’t releasing at the ruck. Nigel called Botes over, and after saying, “I’m not sure if we’ve met before, but I’m the referee on this field, not you”, he ends with “This is not soccer“.
- I’m straighter than that one.
During a European Champions Cup game at Harlequins’ Stoop, a line-out on goes wrong for Dave Ward. The ball is so far off-course even his team can’t get to it. Owens turns to him and says “I’m straighter than that one“.
- You’re both acting very immature.
During a Six Nations France vs England match, French winger Yoann Huget runs the ball into touch. England’s Mike Brown wants to take a quick line-out. However, Huget throws the ball away, resulting in an altercation between the two. Owens calls the pair over for a chat, asks them if they’ve finished, then says “You’re both acting very immature“.
- The football stadium is 500 yards that way.
Leicester Tigers centre Anthony Allen doesn’t agree with a penalty which Nigel has given against his team, so he complains. Nigel replies to Allen, “The football stadium is 500 yards that way“.
England’s Chris Robshaw queries Nigel about a French player. Nigel tells Robshaw there was nothing wrong with the play. Robshaw starts to say “He was…” to which Owens stops him dead with “Uhh… Christopher!”. “Sorry, sir”, replies Robshaw.
Broadcast and Media
As well as refereeing, Nigel Owens co-presents S4C’s ‘Jonathan’ – the rugby-themed Welsh language show hosted by Jonathan Davies.
Furthermore, Nigel co-presents the sports-themed Welsh language chat show ‘Bwrw’r Bar’.
In November 2008, Owens released his autobiography – Half Time.
In 2017, Nigel was Kirtsy Young’s guest on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs’ – listen to the interview. He also presented a programme for Panorama on Eating Disorders in Men and Boys.
- Stonewall’s Gay Sports Personality of the Year and Gay Sports Personality of the Decade
- Honorary Doctorates at Swansea and South Wales University
- Honorary Fellowships at Cardiff Met University and Cardiff University
- MBE for services to sport
Nigel is a member of the Gorsedd of Bards at the National Eisteddfod in Wrexham.
President of the Wales Federation of Young Farmers Clubs, Nigel lives on a farm with his partner Barrie.
In December 2020 – as the most-capped referee in world rugby, Nigel brought his 17-year international career to an end. The November 2020 France v Italy Autumn Nations Cup game was his 100th and final Test match.
Nigel Owens MBE Guest Speaker
Off the pitch, Nigel Owens is a top-rated and entertaining after-dinner speaker.
Aside from anecdotal speeches, Nigel can also deliver keynote presentations with a focus on diversity, mental health, and overcoming adversity. Recent feedback:
“I honestly don’t think that I can put into words how incredible Nigel was. People were in tears, he owned the room, and his story was so moving and authentic.”
To check availability and fee, or to book after-dinner speaker Nigel Owens MBE please contact agent firstname.lastname@example.org