All Blacks vs England may be Nigel Owens' last game   26 Oct 2019

Writing in his column on walesonline.co.uk he said for that reason he intended to savour the moment even more than he usually does.

"What a game to have the honour of refereeing. England versus New Zealand in what should be a truly magnificent 80 minutes, with the intensity levels going up another notch again from even what we saw in the quarterfinals.

"We will prepare as thoroughly as we can as a refereeing team, leave no stone unturned."

Owens also disclosed that 24 hours after last weekend he was being treated in a Tokyo Hospital where he watched the Wales-France game on his mobile phone.

Owens suffers ulcerative colitis and it has affected him on and off for 20 years. And it struck him after the All Blacks v Ireland game and resulted in him being checked out. However, he quickly recovered to be able to take part in Saturday's game.

He said the the moments before kick-off against the Irish in Tokyo were incredible.

"I stood there in front of the Haka, the New Zealand players showing such incredible passion and the Irish fans responding by trying to raise their own team by singing Fields of Athenry.

"It was just a wall of noise, real sporting theatre," he said.

"The only other time I have heard the haka kind of drowned out in that way was when I refereed South Africa versus New Zealand at Ellis Park, Johannesburg in 2013. On that occasion, during the Haka, the Springboks fans started chanting Ole, Ole, Ole.

"I've no doubts the atmosphere will be exactly the same just before kick-off this weekend when it's England who will be trying to beat New Zealand.

"Whoever is playing, I can't tell you just how special it is to stand there, in the middle of the players, and hear the anthems sung just before kick-off of a big Test match. You're only two minutes away from a full on 80 minutes of hard, full-on rugby and you can see – and hear – the passion oozing from the players.

"It's a truly incredible experience to be standing down there whilst that is happening, one that is hard to put into words to do it proper justice.

"It gives you a sense of, not nervousness, so to speak, but butterflies in your stomach. The excitement that goes with being out there for such a wonderful experience just before the action commences. I don't really get too nervous before a game, just that adrenaline of excitement and anticipation, more than a worrying nervousness.

"The players have the best seat in the house because they are the ones involved, but the next best seat goes to the referee because he is a part of it, albeit a very small part."

Owens said refereeing major Test matches brought enormous pressure with it, especially in the social media climate. But he said every time the anthems were sung and the Haka performed he always took a moment to realise how privileged and honoured he was to be doing the job.

 

 Allblacks.com

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