World Rugby referee Nigel Owens has opened up on his experience at the 2019 Rugby World Cup while revealing the heartwarming gesture made by All Blacks captain Kieran Read which left him in tears.

In a column for Wales Online, Owens reflected on the past eight weeks in Japan ahead of his duties as fourth official during tonight's final between England and South Africa in Yokohama.

Along with praising the World Cup as a "brilliant" edition of the tournament, Owens, who officiated last week's semifinal between the All Blacks and England, said it was a gesture made by Read and England captain Owen Farrell which he considered the highlight.

Kieran Read talks to referee Nigel Owens. Photo / Photosport
Kieran Read talks to referee Nigel Owens. Photo / Photosport

"There was also a lovely moment at the end of the game when, unbeknown to me, my TMO Marius Jonker had arranged for Owen Farrell and Kieran Read, the respective captains, to sign the match ball for me," he wrote.

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"Marius and my touch judges held a little presentation in the changing room when they handed over the ball. I can tell you there was a little tear in my eyes, I got a bit emotional, knowing it was my final World Cup game and this was such a lovely note upon which to finish.

"Owen and Kieran had each written 'Best wishes Nige.' They are a credit to the sport, two top quality players, but who are also brilliant captains and are impressive characters on and off the pitch.

Nigel Owens has reflected in his time at the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Photo / Photosport
Nigel Owens has reflected in his time at the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Photo / Photosport

"From my own experience as a referee, you rarely get a moment's trouble with either of them. Very dignified individuals, great role models."

Owens said he would take the ball back home with him to Wales and put it on display at Pontyberem RFC and Mynyddcerrig Workingmen's Club.

He added that he would likely donate it to one of the charities he's involved with in future.

Meanwhile, opening up on the experience officiating last weekend's massive semifinal, Owens said it was an "incredible" match to be a part of, referencing England's radical response to the haka.

"You just sensed you were in the middle of something special even before kick-off when England formed that V shape for the haka. A spine-tingling moment, I could sense the passion down there on the pitch," he wrote.

"It was something I needed to keep an eye on, but fortunately it didn't turn ugly and I didn't have to get involved, apart from telling the few English players in front of me to make sure they kept it respectful. In my view they did."

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Owens will assist referee Jerome Garces during tonight's final.

The All Blacks finished with Rugby World Cup bronze last night after claiming a 40-17 win over Wales.