Nigel Owens will become the most capped Welsh rugby referee this summer when he takes charge of the New Zealand-France game in June.
It will be his 45th international game, overtaking Derek Bevan, who represented Wales in the middle 44 times.
Victoria Turner from the BBC in Wales spoke to both men about what the achievement means. The video can be seen here on the BBC website (video may not work outside the UK)
Full WRU release here:
OWENS ON VERGE OF REFEREE RECORD
Nigel Owens will become Wales’ most capped referee when he takes charge of New Zealand v France on June 22.
By winning his 45th cap he overtakes one of the world’s all-time great referees, Clydach’s Derek Bevan who refereed 44 Test matches including the 1991 World Cup final.
Owens took charge of his first full international when he refereed Japan v Ireland in 2005 and was on the referee’s panel for the 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cups.
Owens refereed his fifth European final in seven seasons when he took charge of the Amlin Challenge Cup Final between Leinster and Stade Francais on Friday night. He refereed the 2007 Amlin Challenge Cup final between ASM Clermont Auvergne and Bath Rugby, and was took control of the 2008, 2009 and 2012 Heineken Cup finals.
Owens is the most high profile of a number of young Welsh referees representing the Welsh Rugby Union around the globe this summer following the recent IRB selection meeting.
Leighton Hodges of Bridgend will referee his first ‘capped’ international when he takes charge of the Test between Canada and Ireland on June 15.
He will become the 55th referee from Wales to be awarded his full cap and he will also take charge of the England v Barbarians fixture at Twickenham before the star-studded Barbarians side travel to Hong Kong to face the British & Irish Lions in a one off Test match.
Another Welsh referee to be recognised on the international stage is Ian Davies from Porthcawl who will referee at the IRB’s Junior World Championship which takes place in France (June 5 – 23), while north Wales born Rhys Thomas continues on the international sevens circuit after being included on the panel to officiate at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow (June 28-30) and Neil Hennessy of Cardiff will act as assistant referee in three Test matches in South Africa in June.
WRU referees’ manager Rob Yeman said, “We are justifiably proud of all our referees representing Wales on the international stage. They have all shown a huge amount of hard work and commitment to reach these levels and these appointments should serve as great motivation for all aspiring referees out there who want to make more of their hobby and indeed inspire others to take up the whistle.”
WRU Head of Rugby Joe Lydon added: “These appointments are recognition and reward not only for the individuals but also the hard work and development that continues to produce positives results across the whole WRU Match Officials department in fulfilling individual and collective potential.”
Off the field, four former Test match referees are involved in the summer international fixtures, with Gareth Simmonds of Cardiff continuing in his role as an IRB TMO. Les Peard of Castleton will Performance Review some of the new generation of referees at the forthcoming Nations Cup being held in Romania, accompanied by WRU elite referee development manager Nigel Whitehouse who will also act as tournament manager. Clayton Thomas will also continue in his role as one of the IRB’s Match Official Selectors