About: Nigel Owens | International Rugby Referee
Nigel Owens is a professional rugby union referee who made history by coming out as gay in 2007. One of the most recognisable figures in the game, Nigel is the world’s first openly gay referee and has overseen some of the sport’s biggest matches.
Away from the pitch, he has become an established LGBT speaker who can recall the difficulties of being gay in such a masculine sport at corporate, public and Pride events.
Nigel always struggled with his sexuality, particularly due to homosexuality being stigmatised in the world of sport. Coming to terms with who he had caused him to suffer from mental health problems and he even debated taking his own life.
When booked as an LGBT speaker Nigel Owens often discusses these dark moments in his life, showing audiences how it is possible to overcome adversity and rebuild your mental health. Nigel is a patron of the LGBT Centre of Excellence Wales, a testament to how far he has come to pioneer support and equality for the LGBT community. In recognition of such work, he was made MBE in 2016.
Throughout his career, Nigel has taken charge of some of the biggest rugby matches in the world both nationally and on the international stage. His first Test match came in 2003 and since then he has officiated more Test matches than any other official. This includes three World Cups and arguably his biggest success to date came when he oversaw the final in 2015 between New Zealand and Australia.
As one of the first-ever Welsh professional referees, Nigel Owens longevity in the game is truly unique and his authoritative yet fair approach has made him incredibly well respected across the world.
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