Nigel Owens is the most charismatic referee in Rugby Union modern history

Nigel Owens is the most charismatic referee in Rugby Union

Possibly, before rugby union was televised, there were referees who could communicate with players as well as a certain, Nigel Owens. But hands down today, he is by far the most charismatic referee in the modern history of this game.

Recent evidence is clearly supporting that reasoning. No longer a question of ‘if’ but, of how positive and in fact, how humane is his player-interaction and communication, that sees fans now witness higher standards when the Welsh International referee is present.

Should the question even be asked though, go no further than the highly entertaining recent examples which all show that the Welshman has a firm grasp of how the modern relationship with players exists. One that is far less formalized than many older fans can recall, but, is gets a positive (and sometimes comedic) reaction from players. His charisma is something that many others could learn from.

Last Word on Rugby might ask this question in respect as to recent video and audio of actions by Owens, that has made him both a rugby-character as well as a fair arbiter of both rules, and common values.

Nigel Owens is the most charismatic referee in Rugby Union

Viewing the footage below, it can be seen as both a churlish admonishment of a naughty child [Simon Zebo] and also as the advice of a mentor – he is both authoritative while being a counselor on fair and decent actions.

In terms in of a co-beneficial relationship, refereeing might be seen as just ‘interpretation’. Was that action legal? When did the rule apply and/or end? How should I react to that player action?

Today, Nigel Owens appears to have a grasp on most respects of the game. Visibly confident around all players, he can be both confrontational;

Yet Owens often uses a pleasant and positive manner to defuse most situations. Never stern, never yelling, but a forceful command of proceedings, that is hardly ever doubted.

The example below both negated complaints from one player and affirmed the ref’s position as the sole decision maker in the game.

That is not to say that others do not also lead the standard for whistle-blowers. Others have different personalities, more able to act in a bi-partisan manner, show leniency and are conciliatory. Modern examples like Wayne Barnes or Angus Gardner, each show characteristics of their own.

Few can copy or mimic the Charisma of Nigel Owens

Although, even some officials from the past like Derek Bevan or Tony Spreadbury might well have shown similar personalities; if a microphone was directed their way. Stories are abound of ‘that one referee’ who was as a character. One who could crack a joke, be sarcastic or be as empathetic or audacious as Owens.

Moreover today, the Welshman is popular, appreciated and very much respected for his attitude, and graciousness of interactions with players and other match officials. Displayed over this weekend, as well as in his terms officiating in the Guinness PRO14, English Premiership and in International matches.

In one example, Nigel Owens showed an awareness of a player’s health; even after his team’s medical side had chosen to send him back out onto the field. In an emotive plea to those medic’s Owens is clearly siding on caution, in an example of sportsmanship and humanity that was leading-edge in his self-awareness of others fitness.

His judgment is agreeable to some, as is the way in which the match official controls and managers decisions and relationships on the field.

That is reinforced that so many in World Rugby have in Nigel Owens, that is a good example of a referee – as much as he is of a good person. One who is both considerate and….flippant.

I mean, who else in the game could yellow card a ball boy (for accidentally returning a ball that hit Owens in the back of the head).

Is Nigel Owens the most ‘humane’ referee in Rugby Union history

Some might say that the lifestyle and experiences of a person can influence whom they are. How they interact with others. So in the case of Nigel Owens, who has faced personal demons; from his homosexuality and issues with bulimia; to those examples of his lighter side and affinity with people, shows through on the field,

If he was not as personable; by experience and through his nature, would others find his manner a positive in rugby? In past years, his off-field voice may have limited his role, but in the modern game, World Rugby promote his identity as being respectful of the diversity of the sport.

Many spectators smile or laugh; some cringe at his repartee with players. His cheeky nature, and especially his honesty. It all means that the evidence is clear – Nigel Owens is the most charismatic referee in Rugby Union modern history.

If you can think of another referee, then suggest it to Nigel. LWOR suspect that his answer will be both entertaining and have a human response. He wears his heart and his values, on his sleeve. Something the Welshman is both proud of, and best known for.


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