Nigel Owens

Kirsty Young talks to international rugby union referee Nigel Owens.

Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the rugby union referee Nigel Owens.

His steely authority and quick wit on the field have won him worldwide praise - he's widely regarded as one of the best referees in the business for the impact he makes on the flow and coherence of a game. In 2015 he became the second Welsh official since 1991 to referee a World Cup Final - in a memorable match between New Zealand and Australia.

Born and raised in a small village in Carmarthenshire, he first picked up the whistle aged 16, when it became clear to both his teacher and himself that he wouldn't make much impact as a player.

A former school technician and farm worker, he broke through onto the international refereeing circuit in 2005 and took charge of his first Test when Japan hosted Ireland in Osaka that summer.

In 2007 he became one of the first high-profile sports professionals to come out as gay - a courageous move in a sport which often defines the word macho. He has spoken about this decision as being the biggest challenge he has ever faced - even more so than officiating an international match under intense scrutiny in front of 95,000 spectators and a global TV audience. The severe depression he experienced coming to terms with his sexuality culminated in an attempt to take his own life in his twenties.

He now says the unwavering support he has received from the rugby authorities, the players and the fans has enabled him to be true to himself and carry on working in the game he loves.

Producer: Paula McGinley.

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Fri 10 Feb 2017 09:00

Music Played

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    Green, Green Grass of Home

    • Green, Green Grass of Home.
    • DERAM.
  • John Eifion

    Mor Fawr Wyt Ti

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    • Sain.
  • Nicole

    A Little Peace

    • This is Eurovision.
    • Virgin.
  • Rhydian & Bryn Terfel

    Myfanwy

    • O Fortuna.
    • Sony.
  • Jennifer Rush

    The Power of Love

    • Jennifer Rush.
    • CBS.
  • CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE

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      Angen Y Gan

      • Dyddiau Di-Gymar.
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  • Disturbed

    The Sound of Silence

    • Immortalized.
    • Reprise.
  • Gloria Gaynor

    I Am What I Am

    • The Very Best Of Gloria Gaynor: I Will Survive.
    • Chrysalis Records.
  • BOOK CHOICE

    The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

  • LUXURY ITEM

    Welsh tea

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Kirsty Young
Interviewed Guest Nigel Owens
Producer Paula McGinley

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