"Only just" - Nigel Owens picked Israel Folau in his all-time XV - Ruck

“Only just” – Nigel Owens picked Israel Folau in his all-time XV

Nigel Owens is widely regarded the greatest referees of all-time and is amongst the most iconic figures of the professional era of rugby union.

It’s actually interesting to note that the majority of the players that Owens picked are captains. The entire pack have captained their countries.

Here is the Welshman’’s best XV of players he’s refereed from an article he penned in 2016…It’s a pretty decent line-up, as you will no doubt agree.


  • 15. Israel Folau (Australia) – This pick didn’t age well
  • 14. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
  • 11. Shane Williams (Wales)

Owens on Folau: “I go for Folau – only just, I should stress – because of his ability to seemingly beat his man every time he gets the ball in his hand. He’s such an exciting player and like Leigh Halfpenny he is one of the best under the high ball.”

Owens on Williams: “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.”

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  • 13. Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)
  • 12. Ma’a Nonu (New Zealand)

Owens on O’Driscoll: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.”

Owens on Nonu: “He’s another brilliant player and after every game, win or lose, he would come up and give me a hug. Ma’a has always found time at after-match functions or at breakfast if we’ve been staying at the same hotel to come over and have a chat.”

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