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Nigel Owens reveals ‘rugby saved my life’ as the he prepares to officiate a milestone 100th Test

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Refereeing great Nigel Owens reveals ‘rugby saved my life’ as the much-respected Welshman prepares to officiate a milestone 100th Test

  • Nigel Owens will officiate his 100th Test at the weekend in France against Italy 
  • The refereeing great revealed rugby saved his life when he was most vulnerable 
  • Owens, 49, says he never expected to reach the numbers he has in his career

Refereeing great Nigel Owens says rugby union saved his life ahead of a milestone this weekend.

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The Welshman will officiate his 100th Test when he oversees France v Italy in the Autumn Nations Cup and will do so as one of the most popular and respected faces in the sport.

His story has a backdrop of resilience too, having come out in the wake of attempting to take his own life.

Nigel Owens has revealed that the sport of rugby saved his life ahead of his 100th Test match

‘I spent about nine to 10 years of my life pretending to be someone I wasn’t and that nearly cost me my life,’ he told World Rugby’s Between the Lines podcast.

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‘From that day on, when I had that second chance, I’ve always said to myself, ‘Just be yourself’.

‘I’d like to think that I have contributed something to the game over the years and if I have, then I am really glad, because believe me, I owe more to rugby and the people in the sport, than rugby will ever owe to me.

Refereeing great says he had spent much of his life pretending to be someone he wasn't

Refereeing great says he had spent much of his life pretending to be someone he wasn’t

‘If it wasn’t for the great sport rugby is, I wouldn’t be able to be who I am today. Rugby saved my life.’

Owens, who turns 50 next year, added that he never expected to reach the numbers he has with the whistle.

‘When you do referee, you don’t really think about milestones. When I got my 71st cap, I became the most capped referee, I overtook Jonathan Kaplan. It wasn’t something I was chasing, but something you become aware of and something you become very proud of,’ he said.

Popular and respected official has taken charge of Rugby's biggest matches over his career

Popular and respected official has taken charge of Rugby’s biggest matches over his career

‘It is very similar now with this 100. If I was to tell you I don’t really care about numbers, and if any referee was to tell you that, I don’t think they are being very honest with you because it is something special, something you can look back at.

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‘With the excellent quality of referees that are about now, very young ones as well, I think they’ll be quite a few of them in the years to come reaching the 100-cap milestone.’

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