Rugby referee Owens set to make history

Referee Nigel Owens will officiate his 100th Test when France play Italy in November.
Referee Nigel Owens will officiate his 100th Test when France play Italy in November.

Nigel Owens will become the first referee to take charge of 100 Tests after being appointed to oversee France's Autumn Nations Cup clash with Italy on November 28.

It will be the 49-year-old Welshman's second game of the newly-created tournament that replaces the traditional autumn tours, which have been scrapped because of the coronavirus pandemic.

His first outing of the competition will be England's Twickenham appointment with Georgia on November 14 - 17 years after he refereed his first Test.

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: "On behalf of everyone at World Rugby, I'd like to say a big congratulations to Nigel Owens on selection for his 100th Test.

"It's a remarkable achievement and testament to his passion for refereeing, his character, unwavering dedication to the highest possible performance and fitness standards and his adaptability over an impressive career that has so far spanned 17 years.

"It will be a massively popular milestone for the sport to celebrate."

Ireland's Joy Neville will also make history by becoming the first female to perform Television Match Official duties when Wales clash with Georgia and Scotland face Fiji, also in the Autumn Nations Cup.

Travel and quarantining restrictions means that next month's two Bledisloe Cup games between Australia and New Zealand will be overseen by non-neutral officials.

Both matches are being staged in New Zealand, with Kiwi Paul Williams in place for the opening game on October 11 and Australia's Angus Gardner taking charge a week later.

Australian Associated Press