Nigel Owens has revealed his intention to bow out of refereeing at the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
But the popular Welshman will only carry on until then if he can stay fit enough to pass the punishing physical tests prescribed by union bosses.
Owens was acclaimed for his handling of New Zealand’s triumph over Australia at Twickenham in last October’s World Cup final and is universially recognised as the best referee in the world.
He made his international debut when Portugal hosted Georgia in Lisbon in 2004 and the following year took charge of a major nation for the first time when he officiated in Ireland’s win over Japan in Osaka.
“I’m 44 and there’s no age limit on refereeing international rugby. My motivation is to keep reffing because I just enjoy it, whether it’s an under-12 match, a local derby, the Pro12, Champions Cup or a World Cup final.
“As long as I can still do a good job on the pitch so the players enjoy it I plan to go on until the 2019 World Cup, if I am fit and refereeing well enough.
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