Nigel Owens: Referee says he will not officiate at another Rugby World Cup

Referee Nigel Owens talks to Kieran Read of New Zealand and Owen Farrell of England
The 2019 semi-final between England and New Zealand was referee Nigel Owens' World Cup finale

Referee Nigel Owens says he has taken charge of his last World Cup game.

The 48-year-old Welshman oversaw England's 19-7 semi-final win against New Zealand last weekend.

A calf injury ruled him out of any involvement in Saturday's final between England and South Africa, although Owens says France's Jerome Garces "deservedly" takes charge of that game.

"When I got that semi-final appointment deep down I knew that was my last World Cup game," he told BBC Radio Wales.

"I wasn't feeling gutted I wasn't involved in the final. Yes the injury has ruled me out of the equation - I would have been part of the equation - but in all honesty I think Jerome Garces would have done the final whether I was injured or not and deservedly so.

"He's refereed well in the World Cup, he's refereed extremely well over the last couple of years and I believe if you've done the World Cup final once, then if someone else is reffing well enough then they deserve to do it before you do the second time.

"I know what it's like, I know what it meant to me, my dad, my family, the community in Pontyberem."

Owens is regarded as one of the finest referees in rugby and took charge of the 2015 World Cup final at Twickenham, where New Zealand beat Australia 34-17.

He is the first openly gay man to officiate at the highest level in rugby and has been a leading figure in tackling homophobic abuse both within the sport and in wider society.

After the 2015 World Cup Owens said he would "go on until 2019" as a referee, but has put himself forward for the 2020 Six Nations and expects to carry on officiating at all levels.

He will referee a Wales game for the first time when they host the Barbarians on 30 November, getting special dispensation from World Rugby as officials are usually selected from neutral nations.

The game at Cardiff's Principality Stadium will see Wayne Pivac take charge of Wales for the first time, with Warren Gatland - who ended his 12-year tenure with Friday's bronze medal play-off against the All Blacks - coaching the Baa-Baas.

"I've got the Barbarians game and hopefully I've got Six Nations games which we'll find out in the next couple of weeks," Owens added.

"I'm not done yet at domestic and international level, but at World Cup level that was my last game so I went into that game making sure I was going to enjoy every minute of it and I was going to do my best for the most important people in a World Cup semi-final - which was the players.

"What a great game to finish your World Cup career."

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