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Top 10 All-Time Best Rugby Referees in History

3. Jim Fleming (Scotland)

Incredibly spent 18 seasons as an international referee and his World Cup CV takes in four tournaments between 1987-1999 (he and Derek Bevan are the only two referees to achieve this feat).

After a low-key start in ‘87 Fleming refereed England-New Zealand four years later plus the Ireland-Australia quarter-finals and Australia-New Zealand in the last four.

His big game in ‘95 was the South Africa-Samoa quarter-final while he was the man in the middle for the South Africa-England last eight clash in ‘99 as well as the France-New Zealand semi-final.


2. Andre Watson (South Africa)

The Stellenbosch University graduate remains the only man to referee two World Cup finals having overseen the Australia-France showdown at the Millennium Stadium in 1999 as well as England’s 2003 victory over Australia.

That year he also was the man in the middle for arguably one of the greatest games in World Cup history when Shane Williams burst onto the Test scene in that thrilling 53-37 defeat to the All Blacks in Sydney.


1. Nigel Owens (Wales) 

Uniquely popular among players and supporters, Nigel Owens is known as much for his one liners as he is for his officiating.

The Welshman, who took charge of the 2015 Rugby World Cup final referees games in a positive manner, looking to keep the game flowing by being quick to penalise players who do not roll away or release.

Although some criticise him for becoming the centre of attention, Owens has built up a good relationship with players who respect him in turn.

In 2016, Owens became the most-capped rugby referee when he took charge of the FijiTonga clash in Suva, overtaking Jonathan Kaplan‘s record of 70 tests.

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