Twickenham on Thursday, Pontyberem on Friday and Paris on Sunday, it was a hectic week for ‘have whistle, will travel’ Nigel Owens.
The world’s leading referee was the man in the middle at the 137th Varsity Match as Oxford beat arch-rivals Cambridge 38-16 to return to winning ways after a two year gap and it meant the man who refereed the 2015 World Cup final at the home of English rugby joined many of the great Welsh officials in controlling the Varsity battle.
“I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was a wonderful occasion and a decent game of rugby. I hope the players enjoyed it as well,” said Owens, who fitted in the game ahead of yesterday’s Heineken Champions Cup clash between Racing 92 and Leicester Tigers in the French capital.
“It was a proper, full-on game with some nice tries and it was a privilege to be a part of it. You could see how much it mattered to both teams.
“The only difference between the World Cup final and this game was the size of the crowd, although 22,000 is a very decent attendance. You still have to referee it like a World Cup final because for these players it is their cup final.
“You have to show the game the respect it deserves and do your job. I just hope I played a small part in allowing them to get on and play the game.
“I was supposed to do this fixture a couple of years ago, but European matches got in the way. I’ve done it now – it is just one of the great fixtures on the rugby calendar.
“I did the Welsh Varsity Match a couple of times a few years ago and it is great to have done this one as well now.”
The date for next year’s Varsity Matches has already been confirmed for Thursday 12 December 2019 at Twickenham Stadium. Ticket information will be released soon.