Springboks look to rope in referee Nigel Owens for RWC

Springboks look to rope in referee Nigel Owens for RWC

The Springboks hope to include former referee Nigel Owens in the coaching panel for their 2023 Rugby World Cup campaign.

South Africa's Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus, confirmed that the Springboks are looking to add a world-class officiator as a referee coach for the World Cup in France later this year.

Owens retired from international refereeing in December 2020 after a 17-year career, during which he featured in two World Cups. Writing in his walesonline.co.uk column, Owens described what his role with the Springboks would entail.

"It would entail me being in South Africa with the squad, refereeing their contact sessions and helping them with their understanding of what they can and can™t do on the field," wrote the Welshman.

"I'd be giving feedback to World Rugby on behalf of South Africa, reviewing the game from a referee's point of view, flagging incidents the team may have a couple of questions about, or areas where we feel like they have been treated harshly.

"And after what we have seen in South African rugby over the past 18 months or so, an important part of the role would be helping Rassie and co to turn over a new leaf and improve the relationship between coaches, players and the referee."

Owens went on to say that while he would be "honoured" to be a part of the defending champions' coaching setup, but there are multiple personal variables to consider, notwithstanding his affiliation with the Welsh Rugby Union.

"It goes without saying that to be part of the coaching set-up of a big proud rugby nation like South Africa, let alone while they're reigning world champions, is something that I would be honoured to do, Rassie knows that," he continued.

"But while it's certainly something that I'd consider doing and would probably enjoy doing, there are things that I need to sit down and go through from my side with my partner, family and the Welsh Rugby Union, where I've been a full-time employee for more than 22 years now. The job entails a lot of time away, so I™ve got to factor in the personal, family side of things and being away from the farm.

"Then, of course, as mentioned, I'm also employed by the WRU as a referee coach, coaching the likes of Craig Evans and Ben Breakspear, while I also head up the academy and I'm involved with the URC as well. The WRU is my priority, so I've got to think, how that would work if the next step was to happen? Right now, I don't know.

"I told Rassie that I needed a week or so to think things through and that is where we have left it for now."