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10th Nov 2015

Nigel Owens reveals the time he was fooled by a former England captain

Kevin Beirne

Nigel Owens may be the best referee in world rugby right now, but it hasn’t always been that way.

The Welshman is famed for his no-nonsense approach, often calling out players he believes are being disrespectful and instructing them to go play football instead of rugby.

But speaking to Irish radio station Newstalk, the World Cup final ref admitted that early on in his career, he had been tricked by former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio in a European Cup game between Wasps and Toulouse.

“He [Dallaglio] came over one ruck in the game and killed the ball on the Toulouse try line”, he said. “He rolled away and tried to make it looking like a complete accident and I fell for it.

Leicester Tigers v London Wasps - Guinness Premiership Final

“His presence and influence on me as a new and inexperienced referee certainly meant him avoiding a yellow card.

“I came off the field at the end game and Derek Bevan who was the TMO and who has coached me aswell and who I owe a lot to. He said ‘Not many things happen in rugby by accident. He’s got you there. He’s used his experience to give you the impression that it was an accident.’ Derek Bevan told me ‘Never let that happen again’. I learnt from that.

“There’s no doubt that a good captain can make a difference.”

Still, it wouldn’t be Owens if he didn’t have some comeback for Dallaglio the next time he saw him.

“I refereed him in a game a couple of months after. He was the captain still. I went into the changing room and he came over and shook my hand. I said ‘Right then Lawrence, what half do you want to go off in today?’ In fairness, he just laughed, I just laughed and we moved on.”