Legendary referee Nigel Owens lands new role as he confirms return to rugby - Ruck

Legendary referee Nigel Owens lands new role as he confirms return to rugby

Refereeing legend Nigel Owens has returned to rugby to help improve the standard of officiating in the United Rugby Championship (URC).

The URC’s head of match officials, Tappe Henning, on Monday confirmed the introduction of an independent referee selection panel.

“We changed the structure a bit on how we review our match officials’ performances,” Henning told reporters on Monday.

“In the past, it was done by the five high-performance referees from each union. But now we have a switch for four independent assessors as a selection panel. They are going to do those reviews with me as the chairman of the group.

“By doing this, we have aligned ourselves to the model World Rugby is using to assess international performances. The idea is to bring a fresh pair of eyes and fresh thinking into the model.

“All four of them are recently retired international referees.

“The aim of that then is to get to an elite group of referees selected on merit and not necessarily on representation from each union, to bring credibility to the match officials we appoint. That’s the long-term goal.”

Also on the panel is George Clancy (Ireland), Stuart Berry (South Africa) and Neil Paterson (Scotland).

5 things you didn’t know about Nigel Owens, including new career & partner

In a courageous move, one of the better known Nigel Owens facts is that he came out as gay in 2007, one of the first sports professionals to do so.

However, despite being one of the best known figures in rugby union, here RUCK reveal a number of Nigel Owens facts that you might not know about.

#1. How he started refereeing

Playing rugby at school, his team hadn’t won a game all year, and needed to kick a conversion for victory. It was Nigel’s moment of glory. But it didn’t go to plan. The ball “went closer to the corner flag than it did to the uprights. I was a laughing stock in the school.” His coach suggested, rather forcefully, that it might make more sense for him to oversee the games rather than play in them.