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Nigel Owens MBE

Nigel Owens MBE is recognised as one of the world’s best rugby referees and is the first openly gay man to come out in professional rugby. Born and bred on a council estate in Mynyddcerrig, West Wales, and a fluent Welsh speaker, he first picked up the referee whistle aged 16 after he was told he wouldn’t make it as a player. Owens officiated his first international game in 2005 between Ireland and Japan in Osaka and he made his World Cup debut in 2007 in France.


About Nigel Owens

Nigel retired from international rugby in 2020 after becoming the first person to officiate 100 test matches. Undoubtedly, his career highlight was the 2015 World Cup Final between New Zealand and Australia at Twickenham, but he is also the only referee ever to be appointed for three consecutive Heineken Cup finals (2015, 2016 & 2017) as well as refereeing another three in 2008, 2009 & 2012 making it a record six European Cup finals.

​Awarded an MBE for services to sport in 2016, Owens is admired and beloved across the world, particularly known for displaying a dry sense of humour and sharp wit when dealing with players. However, as his critically acclaimed and best-selling memoir “Half Time” recalls, Nigel’s career was almost over before it began, suffering eating disorders and a suicide attempt as he struggled to come to terms with his sexuality.

​His bravery and campaigning work in equality, inclusiveness and mental health since has seen Nigel named ‘Gay Sports Personality of the Year’ and ‘Gay Sports Personality of the Decade’ by gay rights group Stonewall, awarded Honorary Doctorates at both Swansea and South Wales Universities and Honorary Fellowships at Cardiff University and Cardiff Met University. In 2011, Nigel was made a member of the Gorsedd of Bards at its National Eisteddfod in Wrexham for his services to the Welsh language.

​Despite retiring from first-class rugby, Nigel is as busy as ever. As well as coaching the next generation of referees and being an in-demand speaker and media personality, he has realised a boyhood dream of owning his own farm, breeding Hereford cattle.

Speech Topics
  • LGBTQ+
  • Mental Health
  • Bulimia and lived experience of eating disorders
  • Rugby
  • Sport
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork and Collaboration
  • Working under pressure

Here you can find links to books by Nigel Owens. For bulk book orders for your event please speak with a member of the team.

the final whistle

Booking Information

Nigel Owens News

Apr 09, 2024

Inspiring Celebrity Speakers on Leadership

Jan 31, 2024

Top LGBT+ History Month Speakers 2024

Jan 03, 2024

Celebrity After-Dinner Speakers for High Profile Events

Dec 04, 2023

From Advocacy to Action: The Role of Pride Month Speakers in Social Change

Nov 29, 2023

Empowering Lessons from Renowned LGBTQ+ History Month Speakers

Oct 23, 2023

A Toast to Human Rights: Celebrating the Contributions of Esteemed Speakers

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