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Nigel Owens

Nigel Owens MBE

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One of the world’s most famous rugby union referees, Nigel Owens has officiated some of the biggest rugby matches in the world – including the 2015 Rugby World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand. In a career that spanned almost 20 years, he became well known for his strict but fair style of officiating, winning respect from players and fans alike.

Away from the pitch, he’s also earned a reputation for being one of the most influential LGBT personalities in sport, being named ‘Gay Personality of the Decade’ in 2015 by Stonewall. Nigel can also be found working as one of the industry’s most popular rugby speakers, using his platform to discuss his incredibly successful career as well as his personal struggles.

Nigel made his debut in European rugby in a European Challenge Cup match between London Irish and Piacenza in 2001. He quickly rose through the referring ranks, taking charge of his first Test match in 2003 and making his debut at the Rugby World Cup in 2007. At the 2015 tournament, he took charge of the final in London between rivals Australia and New Zealand, becoming only the second Welshman to ever do so.

In the same year he won the World Rugby Referee Award, and when booked as a rugby speaker can discuss what it was like taking charge of the biggest game in the sport. As well as the World Cup, Nigel has also officiated in the Six Nations and Heineken Cup finals. In 2020, Nigel retired from international refereeing after becoming the most-capped official of all time.

Away from rugby, Nigel’s personal life made headlines in 2007 when he publicly came out as gay. While the public response was largely positive and supportive, Nigel had struggled with his sexuality for most of his life and had even considered suicide and asked a doctor if he could be chemically castrated. Since coming out, he’s also been subjected to homophobic abuse both online and from fans, during matches he’s officiated. One of the most eye-opening rugby after-dinner speakers around, Nigel’s raw and honest discussions on the topic of his sexuality are always memorable for audiences.

In recent years, Nigel has continued to officiate in the Pro14 and at club level in Wales and has also become a popular television personality on Welsh TV presenting a whole host of primetime shows. Plus, he’s worked as a pundit offering a referee’s perspective on some of the sport’s biggest matches. Nigel’s fantastic sense of humour, down-to-earth personality and friendly demeanour make him among the most popular rugby speakers in the business.

At Evolve, we can facilitate the booking of Nigel Owens for your next event. To find out more, get in touch with our team today.

Topics and Themes

  • Broadcasting
  • Refereeing
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Rugby
  • LGBTQ

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