Popular referee Nigel Owens' reveals ongoing health struggles

Popular referee Nigel Owens’ reveals ongoing health struggles

It was a secret I was still battling to control as I stepped on to the pitch to referee the Rugby World Cup in 2015.

And I’m not alone.

Eating disorders have the highest death rate of any mental health illness and are estimated to affect 1.6 million people in the UK. Around 400,000 are thought to be men and boys.

And that number is growing.

The reasons vary from person to person; body image, obsessive exercise, sporting achievement and the relentless bombardment of ripped physiques on social media and so on.

When I was growing up in a small village in rural Carmarthenshire, west Wales, over 30 years ago, social media didn’t exist.

I enjoyed a happy childhood with loving, supportive parents, grandparents, uncles and aunties. I had a good time at school and loved to go fishing and, of course, play rugby.

So far, so normal.

But when I reached my late teenage years, things changed. I started to realise that I was different, that “something was wrong”.

In the world I grew up in, you get a girlfriend, you get married, you have children, become grandparents… and that’s the way the world turns.

But I was finding myself attracted to men and couldn’t figure out what on earth was going on.

It was totally alien to me. I had no idea what being gay was, I’d never even met a gay person before.

Desperate not to become this person, I struggled to suppress him. I felt I was lying to my parents, the people that mattered the most to me, which went against everything I’d been taught.

I became very depressed.

Continues on Page Three.
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