In a sensational twist, ex-Wales international Dan Biggar is set to step into the shoes of rugby legend Gareth Thomas for ITV’s highly-anticipated coverage of the 2024 Guinness Six Nations.
Biggar, who hung up his boots from Test rugby post last year’s Rugby World Cup, is gearing up to make a comeback to the rugby scene as he takes on this prestigious broadcasting role.
Currently plying his trade in France with Toulon, the former fly-half is ready to bring his wealth of rugby knowledge to the forefront as the tournament kicks off next month.
The news comes just a few days after Sir Clive Woodward revealed he would be standing down as pundit for the channel after nearly 10 years’ service. Speaking to The Times, Woodward explained that he “wanted to go out on a high” after the World Cup.
Former Wales captain Gareth Thomas, who was a part of the team who covered the World Cup in France for the broadcaster, is also not involved in their punditry line-up for the tournament.
Thomas’ inclusion as a pundit was publicly questioned by former England fly-half Andy Goode during the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
The former Wales rugby captain settled a legal dispute with an ex-partner who accused him of “deceptively” transmitting HIV to him back in January.
Ian Baum alleged Mr Thomas hid his HIV status and “failed to take reasonable care” to ensure he did not pass it on.
The former British and Irish Lion said he had settled the case for £75,000 plus costs, but it was not an admission of liability or guilt.
During the Wales game during the World Cup Goode took to Twitter, writing: “It’s actually immoral that Gareth Thomas is on our TV screens, imagine a straight man doing what he did, they wouldn’t get another TV gig ever.”
The response to Goode’s tweet, which received over 1,000 likes was mixed. One fan wrote: “Now now pal. Not the time or place for this.”
Another tweeted: “Someone’s had a couple of beers.”
A third said: “You’re entitled to your opinion. This isn’t the place to voice it”
“Stick to the rugby Andy that’s a discussion for another day,” commented a fourth.
ITV will show 10 matches from the competition, sharing the rights with the BBC.
NIGEL OWENS DREAM XV:
Fullback: Israel Folau (Australia), replaced by Leigh Halfpenny (Wales)
Owens said: “For me, it’s nip and tuck between Halfpenny and Folau, next to nothing to choose between them. Leigh is brilliant because under the high ball and with his kicking at goal under pressure. He may not always break the line when running but puts his body on the line in defence and is a top-notch match-winner.”
Winger: Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
Owens said: “How can you fail to be impressed when watching Hogg play. He’s so exciting as he burst into that line and, of course, was named Six Nations player of the tournament.
“I know he’s a full-back for Scotland, but he is so quick and direct he could easily play on the wing. He reminds me a bit of Shane Williams with some of the things he does.
“When you see who is on the other wing in my team, you’ll see how they would work brilliantly in tandem.”
Outside-centre: Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)
Owens said: “Not only is he one of the greatest centres in the history of rugby union but he’s a fantastic man off the field as well. O’Driscoll has been a wonderful ambassador for the sport and a real leader. He always respected referees and set the right example for others to follow.
“A legend of the game who conducted himself superbly, on and off the pitch.”
Inside-centre: Ma’a Nonu (New Zealand), replaced by Owen Farrell (England)
Owens praised Farrell as a player on numerous occasions.
On one occasion he wrote: “I can only speak from my own experience of refereeing him and, when I did, he was an excellent captain to deal with.
“I have a huge amount of respect for him as a player and a person. He always knew where the line was with me.
“I would say to him that he could always come and talk to me as long as it was at the right time and in the right tone and he always did that.”
Winger: Shane Williams (Wales)
Owens said: “When people ask me who is the best player I have refereed it’s pretty much an impossible task to pick one because I’ve been lucky enough to take charge of so many greats.
“But if I’m pushed, I would pick Shane for what he achieved after coming from football at 17 or 18 years of age.
“He was in the mould of Gerald Davies in how he left defenders gasping for air as he beat them with those dazzling sidesteps. Nobody would fancy defending against a back three of Shane, Hogg and Folau, I can tell you that.”