WALES will have a least one man in the Rugby World Cup Final in referee Nigel Owens, who was selected to blow the whistle for this coming Saturday’s clash between Australia and New Zealand. Wales were unlucky to be knocked out in the quarter-finals by South Africa, due in part to their lengthy injury list, but thankfully Owens has made it through unscathed.
Scrutiny will be at its most intense of the tournament, with the Southern Hemisphere rivalry between the Wallabies and The All Blacks akin to that of England and Wales. After the scandalous defeat of Scotland, due to a poor decision from official Craig Joubert in the final minute, there is more pressure than ever to make sure the game is played fairly and remains a spectacle.
Referee Selector for the tournament Grant Fox described Owens as “the best referee in the world” and has proved his credentials throughout the tournament, notably calling out Scotland’s Stuart Hogg for diving in the group stages. Renowned for both his skills as a referee and his cutting quips on the pitch he told Hogg, “If you want to dive like that come back in two weeks [when the football is on], not today.”
Owens has recently been the subject of a BBC Wales documentary and had spoken of his troubles when he was younger, battling a steroid addiction, bulimia, struggling with his sexuality and a suicide attempt at the age of 26. Hoping that his story will help others in sport he has said, “The biggest challenge I think anyone has in their life, if you have problems, is accepting to yourself that there is a problem and only then can you do something about it and talk to people and get help.”
Now at the top of his game on the biggest stage in Rugby Union, all eyes will turn to Twickenham at 4pm to see the exciting conclusion to a World Cup full of upsets and intrigue. No matter who wins there is the assurance that Owens and his officials will guarantee it is won fairly.