Welsh referee Nigel Owens has confirmed his retirement from international rugby after an illustrious career on the Test stage.
The revered official took charge of his 100th Test in France’s Autumn Nations Cup clash against Italy last month, 17 years on from overseeing his first international between Portugal and Georgia.
“Nobody has a divine right to go on forever,” Owens, who holds the record for most refereed internationals, said in quotes reported by the Welsh Rugby Union’s official website.
“There comes a time where it’s time to move on, so international refereeing will come to an end now. That France v Italy game was my last Test match. To go out on 100 is a good time to go.”
Owens has a lengthy list of achievements, including overseeing the 2015 Rugby World Cup final between New Zealand and Australia and several European showpieces.
The 49-year-old is a respected figure throughout the game and has struck up strong relationships with players and teams, while he has also been involved in several television appearances away from rugby – including an appearance on popular ITV quiz show ‘The Chase’ earlier this year.
While Owens will no longer officiate international matches, he still plans to referee in Pro14.
AND OUT @Nigelrefowens has brought his stellar 17-year international career to an end. Watch as he shares some of his fondest memories
Gwneud fy nheulu a’m cymuned yn falch yw fy nghyflawniad mwyaf, meddai Nigel
— Welsh Rugby Union (@WelshRugbyUnion) December 11, 2020
“I’m not going to be around for 2023, I don’t want to be. I still hope to referee in the Pro 14 and locally in Wales this season and maybe next as well,” he added.
“I will certainly continue to referee in the community game because when you are very fortunate to get so much out of something, I think it’s hugely important that you give something back to it as well.
“I’ll also be going into a coaching role with the WRU [Welsh Rugby Union], helping some of our talented, young referees we have here in Wales, so that is something I’m quite excited about.
“We currently have five referees including myself refereeing at Pro 14 level so it will be exciting to help them make further progress, as well as our other upcoming male and female referees.”
In total, Owens has refereed matches involving 25 different international teams. He has officiated more matches involving New Zealand than any other nation (25).