YFC roots inspire Rugby World Cup final referee Nigel Owens

A former president of the Wales Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (YFC) will be refereeing the rugby World Cup on Saturday (31 October).

Nigel Owens, who had the role between 2011 and 2014, will take charge of the clash between Australia and New Zealand at Twickenham this weekend.

The 44-year-old said he was “truly humbled and honoured” after being selected by the tournament organisers.

A member of Llanarthne Club in Carmarthenshire in the early 1990s, he was club chairman for two years and immersed himself in YFC life, taking part in public speaking, drama and stock judging competitions.

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Now seen as one of the rugby’s top referees, he worked on a farm in his formative years while studying a youth training scheme in agriculture.

Widely seen as a role model, he has battled his own demons and has spoken openly about the difficulties he had coming to terms with his sexuality and how at one point he was on the brink of suicide.

“It’s not easy to talk about tough times in my life, but if it helps one other person, it will have been worth it,” he said, referring to a recent interview he gave with the BBC, True to Myself.

“Everyone is really proud of Nigel’s achievements,” said Wales YFC director Nia Lloyd.

“He’s been involved with the federation for many years and it’s incredibly exciting to see him get this prestigious role.

“Young Farmers has always been a fantastic organisation when it comes to cultivating talent and, as a member and more recently our president, Nigel has always loved the sport.

“Thousands of YFC members will be watching the game and wishing him well on Saturday,” said Nia.

“It’s great to see Wales represented in one of the biggest sporting occasions of the year in this way, even though we’re all gutted the Welsh team didn’t make through to the final.

“I wish Nigel the best of luck for Saturday – I’m sure he’ll do a brilliant job.”

In Carmarthenshire, county organiser Eirios Thomas said: “It’s a fantastic achievement, but nothing has ever gone to Nigel’s head.

“When he was president, he took the role incredibly seriously. He has never ever forgotten his YFC connections and I can’t praise him enough.”

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