Nigel Owens names the two best referees in the world … and it’s not him

Nigel Owens has been a huge role model for many referees as he continuously officiates some of the most important matches in rugby history.

Ahead of any Six Nations encounter there is always banter between rival fans but none more so than in the build-up to such a historic fixture as England v Wales at Twickenham.

When World Rugby joined now retired Nigel Owens on his dairy farm, nestled in the Gwendraeth Valley some 15 miles north-west of Swansea a few days before the Six Nations 2022 encounter, the record-breaking referee wasted no time in joining in the fun.

When asked which referee fancies himself as the best player, the Welshman couldn’t resist a jokey dig at his English friend and former colleague, Wayne Barnes, whose sole Six Nations 2022 appointment is not until Ireland host Scotland on 19 March.

“Which referee fancies themselves as the best player? Well, that would be Nic Berry, because he played at the top level for Wasps and Stade as a very, very talented scrum-half and a very talented referee as well. I’ll tell you which referee wouldn’t make a talented player – Wayne Barnes!”

Flipping the idea on its head, Owens, who refereed the Rugby World Cup 2015 final and became the first referee to officiate in 100 tests when he took charge of the France v Italy game in the Autumn Nations Cup in November 2020, says there were effectively three referees on the field when Six Nations 2022 kicked off – the actual referee, Jaco Peyper, and two wannabees.

“I’ll tell you what, they’re probably the best two referees in the world, Dan Biggar and Johnny Sexton, because when you ref them they always think they know more than you!”