Leading rugby referee Nigel Owens has opened up on receiving homophobic abuse during a game between the All Blacks and England at Twickenham.

In a column for Wales Online, Owens went into detail about the after-effects of the incident in 2014 where fans shouted homophobic comments at him.

The offending fans were identified, with two individuals being banned from Twickenham for two years and fined 1,000 pounds apiece.

Owens says that was the correct way to deal with the fans, but went into detail on how the abuse affected him.

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"People stood up there and then at the time which made a difference," wrote Owens.

"I think the best way to deal with abuse is to call people out. I know what it's like to be at the end of it. It's not nice at all. You even on some occasions don't feel safe. You feel very disappointed that this still goes on. It needs to be dealt with firmly and fairly but with zero tolerance if we want to rid society and sport of this hate.

"There are still a minority out there who think it is okay to shout abuse that is totally unacceptable.

Fans were fined and suspended after hurling abuse at Welsh referee Nigel Owens during a test between the All Blacks and England at Twickenham in 2014. Photo / Getty
Fans were fined and suspended after hurling abuse at Welsh referee Nigel Owens during a test between the All Blacks and England at Twickenham in 2014. Photo / Getty

"Banter, and the sporting arena humour of passion for supporting your team, and even shouting or booing when you disagree with the referee, has always been part of the match-day experience and there is nothing wrong with that in my opinion.

"But there's still a minority out there who cross the line and that is not acceptable and needs to be called out."

Owens also described an incident in a Welsh Premiership game between Llanelli and Neath, where a Neath supporter shouted "Owens gay c***" when a decision went against his team.

"They were given a name of who the individual was. It was reported but because no-one else came forward to confirm this, there was nothing that could be done as it was one person's word against another. It was disappointing," wrote Owens.

"I did receive a letter of apology and support from the Neath RFC chairman at the time that I would always be welcomed at the Gnoll and that they would not tolerate behaviour like this from any of their supporters."