World Rugby celebrates record-breaking Nigel Owens MBE

  • World Rugby has led the tributes to referee Nigel Owens, who today was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours
  • The honour, awarded for services to sport, caps a remarkable 12 months for the Welshman
  • He became the most-capped referee of all time after taking charge of his 71st test, the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup match between Fiji and Tonga in Suva
World Rugby has led the tributes to referee Nigel Owens, who became the highest capped itnernational referee while also being awarded an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours.

From Cardiff to Christchurch and from Krasnoyarsk in Siberia to Kingstown in St Vincent and the Grenadines, he has travelled the world with his boots and whistle for the past 13 years and continues to perform to the highest standard.

World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “Nigel is a fantastic ambassador for rugby and a wonderful person, whose enthusiasm and passion for the game shines through every time he takes to the field.



“The honour is fitting and much-deserved recognition for a man who has not just achieved at the highest level in the sport, but has also done so much for the sport and sporting inclusivity.

“On behalf of World Rugby and the global rugby family, I would like to extend our congratulations to rugby’s most capped international referee.”

Owens said: “It’s a huge honour to be recognised in this way. Refereeing has opened up so many doors to me since I took up the whistle as a teenager, as soon as I realised I wasn’t going to make it as a player.

“Refereeing, and becoming a full-time WRU referee has enabled me to play a part in some of the biggest club and international matches and occasions in world rugby, and of course taking charge of the Rugby World Cup final last year was one of the most memorable events in world sport and I’m grateful for every opportunity.”

Welsh Rugby Union chairman Gareth Davies said:”Wales has always produced great international referees, from the likes of Gwynne Walters to the previous most capped Welsh referee, Derek Bevan.

“However, it is fair to say that Nigel is certainly one of the best referees in the professional age, if not the best. Rugby union makes huge demands on match officials in the modern era, but Nigel not only manages games to the best of his ability, his impeccable communication and refereeing skills enabling him to play a key part in some of the best club and international matches in recent years, but he’s able to add humour and humility in equal measure.”

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