Nigel Owens

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Nigel Owens is recognised as one of the world’s best rugby referees. He is the first openly gay man to come out in professional rugby.

Born and bred on a council estate in Mynyddcerrig West Wales, he is a fluent welsh speaker and first picked up the referee whistle aged 16. Owens officiated his first international game in 2005 between Ireland and Japan in Osaka. He is the current record holder for test matches refereed.

He made his World Cup debut in 2007 in France. He is the only referee ever to be appointed to referee three consecutive Heineken Cup finals (2015, 2016 & 2017) as well as refereeing another there finals in 2008, 2009 & 2012 making it a record six European cup finals as well as two challenge cup finals. In 2015, Nigel was appointed referee for the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final between New Zealand and Australia at Twickenham. He has also refereed a record six Pro14 finals.

Aside from refereeing, Nigel is a co-presenter on S4C’s Jonathan – the rugby-themed Welsh language show hosted by Jonathan Davies. He also presents other Welsh language chat shows on S4C. He also won huge plaudits for his Desert Island Discs programme on Radio 4 hosted by Kirsty Young. In 2017 he presented the Panorama programme on Eating Disorders in Men and Boys.
Nigel’s autobiography was released in in Nov 2008, in Welsh called “Hanner Amser” (Half Time). With the English version released in 2009 which is still selling well today.

Nigel was named ‘Gay Sports Personality of the Year’ by gay rights group Stonewall at its annual 2007 awards ceremony in London and then the Gay Sports Personality of the Decade in 2016. In 2011, Nigel was made a member of the Gorsedd of Bards at its National Eisteddfod in Wrexham for his services to the Welsh language. Awarded an MBE for services to sport in June 2016, Nigel continues to referee international rugby matches around world.
Nigel has also just been selected to referee at his fourth consecutive Rugby World Cup in Japan this year 2019.

For his work on and off the pitch in rugby and in equality, inclusiveness and mental health he was received many awards including Honorary Doctorates at both Swansea and South Wales Universities. He also holds Honorary Fellowships at both Cardiff Met University and Cardiff University.

Nigel speaks about his personal story, as well as the traits needed to command on the pitch, how to take tough decisions and deal with tough characters.
As well as being one of the funniest Rugby Speakers in the country, Nigel is also as fantastic Host, and LGBT Speaker.

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