Legendary Referee Nigel Owens Officially Hangs Up His Test Whistle

Centurion.

Legendary Welsh referee Nigel Owens has today announced his retirement from the international stage.

Following a stellar test career, spanning 17 years and 210 matches in total, including exactly 100 as a referee, one of the best known, loved and decorated personalities in the game has called time on his international career.

Owens reached the very pinnacle of the game when taking charge of the Rugby World Cup 2015 final between New Zealand and Australia at Twickenham and received the World Rugby Referee Award a day later.

Undoubtedly one of the game’s most enthusiastic and well-renowned ambassadors, he became the first referee to take charge of 100 tests when he blew the whistle for France v Italy in the Autumn Nations Cup in Paris on 28 November 2020, 17 years after his test debut in February 2003 when he was in the middle for Portugal versus Georgia in Lisbon.

Owens, speaking in a Welsh Rugby Union video, said:

“Nobody has a divine right to go on forever. There comes a time where it’s time to move on so the refereeing at a test match level will come to an end now. To go out on a hundred is a good time to go.

“Reaching a hundred caps is a milestone and something I’m proud of, but more importantly, I’ve made my family and community proud as well. I wouldn’t change one thing, from travelling all over the world for the best part of the last 20 years to being involved in some of rugby’s greatest occasions.

“One of the most important values and ethos’ of rugby union is the value of respect. Rugby I believe upholds a tradition and value of respect better than any other sport in the world. There’s a lot of things that rugby needs to improve and do better, but one thing it certainly does lead on is inclusiveness, diversity, fair play and equality for all and that is something that I’m very proud to be part of in rugby.”

Looking beyond this season, he added:

“I certainly will be refereeing the community game, some junior clubs on a Sunday morning or school games or even club games to put something back because I think it’s hugely important when you are very fortunate to get so much out of something that you give something back into it as well.”