Nigel Owens: The Final Whistle: The long-awaited sequel to his bestselling autobiography!

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Nigel Owens: The Final Whistle: The long-awaited sequel to his bestselling autobiography!

Nigel Owens: The Final Whistle: The long-awaited sequel to his bestselling autobiography!

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I wasn’t to know it, but that proved to be another of those clips that went viral. A Welsh company even made some T-shirts with the words emblazoned across them and gave a couple to me. I sent one of them to Dan at his home in New Zealand. He thanked me, though whether he actually wore the thing I’m not so sure. Most importantly, it was to take place under the Welsh Rugby Union banner, not England’s. I was really grateful to the RFU and Tony Spreadbury for listening to me, but deep down, as a proud Welshman who loved working for the WRU, I always wanted to remain in Wales for the next part of my journey.” But, of all the people gathered around that table, it just had to happen to me, didn’t it? I looked to see if the Queen had noticed – she had. Her Majesty missed nothing. It was a truly wonderful gesture, touching and indeed typical of the support the WRU had given me down the years,” writes Owens.

It’s Scotland versus South Africa in the 2015 World Cup at Newcastle’s St James’ Park and Owens feels Stuart Hogg has just taken a dive after being brushed by Springbok prop Tendai ‘The Beast’ Mtawarira. He had first used the words to Leicester's England centre Anthony Allen who was complaining during a Heineken Cup match at Welford Road against Ulster. The evening started with a lovely video the WRU had put together after Quinnell had gone to Owens’ home village of Mynyddcerrig, near Llanelli, to speak to locals about their own pride in his rise to the top.People clearly did, still do, and that's fine. As far as I'm concerned though, anything I said was simply me being me as a referee, interacting with a player and just trying to get my point across." I hope people enjoy the book, smile, like the behind-the-scenes stories I tell, but if it also helps some who might be going through trauma and want some light at the end of the tunnel, that's even more important." He has also had huge success as media pundit, as TV presenter, star of adverts and his warmth and affability always shining through. It was entirely possible at one stage that none of that would have happened. I’m so glad it did, creating many more memories – and the odd controversy or three! The chair of Welsh Water was also part of the conversation and turned to me to say, ‘Well, there you are Nigel. You’ve had it from the very top now. Sort it out'!

Owens has become a household name thanks to his witty rapport with players on the field, as well as his media appearances away from it too. The book closes as Nigel Owens opens new chapters in his life. He becomes a farmer, looking after a pedigree herd of Herefords near the home he shares in Pontyberem with his partner Barrie. Together they are exploring the route to adopting children, a process in tandem with building a new home together.

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That was just me, in my own way, managing the moment as referee as I saw it in that particular instance, but what’s important to stress is that I wasn’t belittling Ward for his throw in any way shape or form. I would never do that to any player.” Don’t swear now mun, you’re on telly I looked up at him perplexed and responded, ‘What do you mean viral? Why, what did I say?’ I genuinely didn’t know what he was on about, certainly not the significance of it, until I looked at my phone - and whoosh. Messages everywhere.

As for his biggest rugby regret, that didn't come in one of the many high-profile matches Owens took charge of, but actually in a Welsh Schools under-18s game when he sent off a Gowerton youngster when matters got out of hand between the teams. We smiled. I was taken into this large banquet room where I started chatting to my fellow guests before the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh entered. I was introduced to Prince Philip first. ‘Sir, this is Nigel Owens who refereed the 2015 World Cup final.’ Let me explain exactly how that one happened. There had been a bit of a hoo-hah over gamesmanship after the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa, plenty of chatter in the media about players rolling around, diving to try to con the referee into giving a penalty, or running up and surrounding him to complain about decisions.

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I told her I’d met Princess Anne, who is patron of the Scotland team, on a couple of occasions. She had been presented to the two sets of players and match officials on the pitch ahead of matches up at Murrayfield, and also at the World Cup event held at the Palace during my first visit there as part of a group of referees in 2015. The hugely popular man in the middle brought pride to Welsh rugby by breaking a plethora of records in the world game, including becoming the first referee to officiate 100 Test matches, most Six Nations games and most European Cup finals. I let it go for a little while, but when I awarded Munster a scrum for a turnover, after their excellent and inspirational captain Paul O’Connell had held up the ball in a maul, Botes started complaining about the Irishman not releasing. I’d had enough. I blew my whistle, called Botes and his captain Antonio Pavanello over for a word.

Ah yes, I do like a bit of rugby. Tell me Nigel, why don’t they put the ball in straight at a scrum any more?’ The first thing I noticed on arriving at the Palace was that I was able to keep my mobile phone with me! On a visit during the World Cup we had to hand them in, presumably to prevent photographs being taken inside the inner sanctum. When I went to hand it over again, the head butler to the Queen, himself a big rugby fan, told me, ‘Keep it, Nigel. If I thought you were dodgy I wouldn’t have let you in anyway!’ It's been a stressful week so the game itself has been far from my mind this week with the TB testing, which can be heart-breaking if the result is positive - but thankfully everything was negative and all was good thankfully. There were periods when he took took many steroids or found comfort in eating too much and other passages in his life when bulimia affected him badly.He says: "Quite a few years later I was in Swansea’s Wind Street when a guy approached me out of the blue and said he was the player I'd sent off in that game. We shook hands, I apologised, bought him a pint and we had a chat and a smile about it. If he’s reading this I want to say sorry to him again. That red card was my biggest regret in rugby.



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