Nigel Owens Reveals He Almost Quit Refereeing Before Incredible Handwritten Letter

“It was a letter that really meant something.”

Legendary rugby referee Nigel Owens has revealed he very nearly quit the game – just one year before he took charge of the biggest game of his life at the 2015 Rugby World Cup final.

Owens was subjected to some horrible homophobic abuse during England’s defeat to New Zealand back in 2014, with two supporters handed two-year bans and fined £1,000.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Owens has revealed he considered quitting the game entirely before a letter from then Rugby Football Union chairman, and now World Rugby Chairman, Bill Beaumont helped change his mind.

“I remember opening the post that day and seeing a letter with an RFU postmark on it and wondering what it was,” said Owens.

“I opened it and what first struck me was that it was handwritten and then I saw it was from Bill.

“I sat down and read through it and I found a huge amount of strength from it, in that they had taken the time to handwrite the letter and shown his support to me.

“He said the RFU was doing everything it could to deal with this issue in the correct manner, because there was no place for it in sport, at Twickenham or any other stadium.

“He said I was respected in rugby and Twickenham as a person and as a referee, and it brought a tear to my eye. It really meant a lot. I read it again and again and again and the bit that stayed in my mind was that I would always be welcome at Twickenham.

“The letter didn’t feel like a letter that had been typed up and just sent so they were ticking all the boxes. It was a letter that really meant something.”

A few months later Nigel Owens was back in Twickenham as England took on France in the Six Nations. He received an incredible reception from the fans in attendance.

7 months later he was in Twickenham again. This time he was refereeing the Rugby World Cup final, and was named World Referee of the Year just weeks later.

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