Nigel Owens Has Selected His All Time World XV

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Nigel Owens is not only the world’s greatest referee, he makes a pretty good master of ceremonies… and a damn decent rugby selector, too!

15 Israel Folau (Australia)

Crikey, the first position in the team and I’m already spoilt for choice. Leigh Halfpenny is a truly great player, while Lee Byrne was another who always shone when he played for Wales.

14 Stuart Hogg (Scotland)

Another really tight call for me because I’m a huge admirer of Julian Savea, who was brilliant for New Zealand at the World Cup and in particular during the quarter-final against France in Cardiff.

13 Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)

Not only is he one of the greatest centres in the history of rugby union but he’s a fantastic man off the field as well. O’Driscoll has been a wonderful ambassador for the sport and a real leader.

12 Ma’a Nonu (New Zealand)

He’s another brilliant player and after every game, win or lose, he would come up and give me a hug. Ma’a has always found time at after-match functions or at breakfast if we’ve been staying at the same hotel to come over and have a chat.

11 Shane Williams (Wales)

When people ask me who is the best player I have refereed it’s pretty much an impossible task to pick one because I’ve been lucky enough to take charge of so many greats.

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10 Dan Carter (New Zealand)

There are lots of outside-halves who have been great, but not one who has done it over so many years like Carter.

9: Agustin Pichot (Argentina)

I used to love watching Dwayne Peel in his prime as a scrum-half for those few years between 2004-06 with Wales, the Lions and Llanelli. Talented, a great guy, he also has a house just up the road from me!

1 Gethin Jenkins (Wales)

He rarely smiles but has been a terrific player at loose-head prop. When I’ve penalised him and he’s smiled, I know I’d got the decision right!

2 John Smit (South Africa)

He led the Springboks to success at the 2007 World Cup in France and against the 2009 Lions and is probably one of the greatest captains I have dealt with.

3 Phil Vickery (England)

I always had a lot of time for him, found him a decent man, a good player to referee. He wasn’t one of those who would whinge at decisions, he would accept the call and get on with it.

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4 Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)

A man of few words, he does his talking on the field with his actions. Not only is he a brilliant player and a very good captain but I don’t think I have reffed a match where he hasn’t given absolutely everything.

 

5 Paul O’Connell (Ireland)

Quite simply he was just an exceptional leader. I have been in charge of games where he pretty much carried his team, whether it was Munster or Ireland, almost on his back and onto victory.

6 Thierry Dusautoir (France)

I was tempted to for Jerome Kaino here. There was a programme on television the night before the World Cup final and Kaino came up to me at the final whistle and said: ‘I watched that documentary last night and it was really inspiring’.

7 Richie McCaw (New Zealand)

Even though there’s been David Pocock and others in this position, how can I not go with Richie?

8 Sergio Parisse (Italy)

I’ve been fortunate to have refereed some tremendous No.8s during my career but Sergio is tops. He’s such a talented player and rarely has a bad game.

Want more of our Nige? – Check out his top 5 moments.

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