Milestone for Owens

Wed, 23 Oct 2013 16:25
Nigel is one of the leading officials in the world

Welsh referee Nigel Owens will become the firstmatch  official to make 100 Celtic League appearances when he takes charge of Friday night's Welsh derby between the Ospreys and the Dragons at The Liberty Stadium in Swansea.

Owens took charge of his first Celtic League clash 11 years ago, when Border Reivers met Connacht in August, 2002.

Since then, he has gone on to officiate at the highest possible level, refereeing at the 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cups as well as taking charge of two consecutive Heineken Cup finals in 2008 and 2009.

Owens also became Wales' most capped international referee last summer, overtaking Derek Bevan's long standing record when he took charge of New Zealand against France in June.

Owens, who turned 42 in June, said: "When you get these records you realise how long you've been around.

"With the Rabo, there are only so many games you can referee but I'm very proud to get to this milestone. It's something I never thought would happen when I started in 2002.”

After more than a decade at the highest level, Owens has taken charge of some big games.

He said: "One match I can remember was the Blues against the Scarlets at the Arms Park. It was an end of season game and there were a number of great tries.

"There was also the Magners League final between Munster and Leinster at Thomond Park – that was another great occasion.”

With more than a decade's experience as a referee, Owens has seen plenty of change in the game and he argues the introduction of technology has been benefitted rugby overall.

He said: "When I started we had push buttons in the flags which didn't always work but things have moved on, which is good, as the game has to.

"It's a lot faster now and all everyone wants is the correct decision to be made. That's happening more and more now but we must be careful not to overuse it. Sometimes you have to have confidence in your own decisions and those working with you.”

On Owens's achievement, WRU National Match Officials Manager Nigel Whitehouse added: "Nigel is undoubtedly one of the leading officials in the world at present and this accolade, coupled with his recently becoming Wales's most capped referee, speaks volumes for his standing in the game.

"It is hard to believe that 11 years have passed since his first game in Scotland back in 2002. Nigel has been a feather in our cap here at the WRU for a long period of time during which he has gained huge respect for his firm but always fair handling of matches.

"This milestone is a just reward for the efforts he puts in and I wish him well for Friday. It is of special significance that his 100th appointment takes place on home soil”