Nigel Owens set to break world record as he becomes most experienced referee in history of rugby
When the 44-year-old Welshman takes to the field for the match between Fiji and Tonga in Suva, he will surpass the milestone of South African Jonathan Kaplan
Since making his Test debut in 2003, when Portugal beat Georgia 34-30 in Lisbon, Owens has become one of the most respected match officials in the sport
Welsh referee Nigel Owens will achieve another magical milestone when he becomes a world record holder by taking charge of his 71st Test match this summer.
Owens, who took charge of the World Cup final between New Zealand and Australia at Twickenham last October, has been handed his 71st Test when Fiji tackle Tonga in Suva on June 11.
And that game will see him pass South African Jonathan Kaplan’s mark of 70 Tests, 13 years after refereeing his first international match.
Owens said: “It’s an honour to be appointed to this important match and I will prepare in the same way as I always do.
“I don’t think anyone goes into refereeing in order to break records like this but I suppose what it says is that I’ve managed to stay at the top level of the game for a while now, so there is a lot of satisfaction and pride that comes with that.
“Refereeing the World Cup final was a wonderful experience and one that I will treasure forever but every match is memorable in its own way and I am really looking forward to this next challenge in Fiji, where I have never refereed before.”
And chairman of the Match Officials Selection Panel, John Jeffrey, added: “I would like to congratulate Nigel on reaching this milestone.
“Over many years, he has shown himself to be one of the best referees in the world and he is a great servant to the game.
“His longevity at the top level of rugby is a testament to his ability, dedication, hard work and perseverance, and I wish him all the best for this record-breaking match.”
Owens will also be involved in England’s summer series against Australia, taking charge of the third Test in Sydney on June 25, with the other two games in Brisbane and Melbourne on June 11 and 18 being awarded to Frenchman Romain Poite and South African Craig Joubert, respectively.
And Wales’ three matches against the world champion All Blacks in New Zealand from June 11-25 will see England’s Wayne Barnes, South African Jaco Peyper and France’s Jerome Garces officiating.