Rugby: How a missed conversion turned Nigel Owens into a world class referee

Nigel Owens shows a yellow card to Wallabies captain Stephen Moore. Photo / Greg Bowker
Nigel Owens shows a yellow card to Wallabies captain Stephen Moore. Photo / Greg Bowker

International rugby referee Nigel Owens has given insight into how he got his start in refereeing during an interview with Newstalk ZB.

Owens insisted that refereeing requires a certain passion, one that he had from a young age.

"I think refereeing is something you need to be passionate about and for me, I was passionate about rugby, I played rugby and refereeing just started by chance, just by helping out refereeing some school games," said Owens.

The Welsh referee, now with 71 tests under his belt, went on to explain that chance event.

"I played until I was 16, I played for the first fifteen in school, I wasn't very good and that's why I started refereeing, really.

"We were playing the last game of our school season and I was playing fullback for the first fifteen of the school.

We hadn't won a game all year."

"One of my best mates was playing centre and was captain, and he scored a try right at the end of the game to bring the scores up to twelve all with a conversion to come, right in front of the posts."

"Of course I told my mate who's the captain 'I'll kick this' and I could just imagine kicking this, winning our first game all year, becoming a hero in the school"

"When I actually kicked the ball it went closer to the corner post than it did between the uprights and the score finished at twelve all."

"My mate didn't speak to me for a couple of days."

Owens' said his high school sports teacher then told him "Nigel for god's sake, won't you go and referee or something!".

The following week Owens helped referee a couple of youth games at his school, enjoyed it and that's how his career began.

Owens will be in New Zealand to referee the third Bledisloe Cup test on October 22nd.

He will also make an appearance at Auckland Grammar School on October 20th for an 'in conversation' event presented by the Auckland Writers Festival.

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