Nigel Owens

Nigel Owens

  • Former Rugby World Cup Referee
  • Awards Host, Inspiring Motivational & After Dinner Speaker
  • Diversity, Mental Health & LGBTQ+

Nigel Owens is recognised as one of the world’s best rugby referees. He is the first openly gay man to come out in professional rugby. Born and bred on a council estate in Mynyddcerrig West Wales.

A fluent Welsh speaker he first picked up the referee whistle aged 16. Owens officiated his first international game in 2005 between Ireland and Japan in Osaka. He is the current record holder for test matches refereed. He made his World Cup debut in 2007 in France. He is the only referee ever to be appointed to referee three consecutive Heineken Cup finals (2015, 2016 & 2017) as well as refereeing another three finals in 2008, 2009 & 2012 making it a record six European cup finals as well as two challenge cup finals. In 2015, Nigel was appointed referee for the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final between New Zealand and Australia at Twickenham. He has also refereed a record six Pro14 finals.

Aside from refereeing, Nigel is a co-presenter on S4C’s Jonathan – the rugby-themed Welsh language show hosted by Jonathan Davies. He also presents other Welsh language chat shows on S4C. He also won huge plaudits for his Desert Island Discs programme on Radio 4 hosted by Kirsty Young. In 2017, he presented the Panorama programme on Eating Disorders in Men and Boys.

Using his international platform in a male-dominated industry, Nigel came out publicly as gay in 2007, which in turn opened the conversation for the sport to encourage diversity and inclusion. Sharing his experience of attempted suicide, bullying and bulimia that had come from hiding his sexuality, Nigel’s honesty brought essential awareness to LGBT issues, particularly in sports. For his influential advocacy work, Nigel was named Stonewall’s Gay Sports Personality of the Year 2007 and in 2015 as the Gay Sports Personality of the Decade.

Hailed as one of Wales’ Leading LGBTQ+ Figures on the 2017 Pinc List, Nigel continues to be committed to supporting diverse rights and is a patron of the Wooden Spoon Charity.

In 2022, Nigel became an Ambassador for Accelerate Sport, working with the company to engage sports clubs on equality, diversity, LGBTQ+ inclusion and mental health.

For his work on and off the pitch in rugby and in equality, inclusiveness and mental health he has received many awards including “ An Honorary Doctorate at both Swansea 2016 and South Wales University 2018”. A Honorary Fellowship at both Cardiff Met University 2016 and Cardiff University 2016.”

Whether he is discussing his career on the pitch or harrowing journey with mental health, Nigel captivates audiences of all demographics.

As well as being one of the funniest Rugby Speakers in the country, Nigel is also as fantastic Host, and LGBTQ+ Speaker. He is the ideal choice for After Dinner Speaking, Rugby Club Dinners, Sporting Clubs and Conferences. Please contact a Prime Performers Booking Agent on 020 3500 3331 to discuss your requirements

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Would you pass on our thanks to Nigel for being such a wonderful guest and great speaker. When he stops refereeing, he needs to take up a career as a singer! He was brilliant fun and everyone really enjoyed his talk and presence.
We had great day. I had not heard Nigel before, I had heard he was good ......OMG!!! Wonderful....blew me away and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. Very inspirational, personally and professionally.
Nigel was fantastic, very prompt and engaging with the client and their employees. His talk was superb and really hit the nail on the head. His humility, honesty and integrity won the whole room over immediately and the balance he struck when dealing with emotionally complex and deep subjects with compassion and experience was truly superb. The client was absolutely thrilled with Nigel's talk, the Q&A at the end and the fact that he engaged wholeheartedly with the client afterwards.