Celebrities, family and friends pay tribute to Nigel Owens in surprise 50th birthday TV special

10 June 2021

Some of the world's most famous rugby players, friends and family have paid tribute to 'iconic' Nigel Owens in a special TV programme to celebrate his landmark 50th birthday.

Nigel Owens 50, which will be shown at 9.00pm on Friday night on S4C (English subtitles available), sees Nigel's co-hosts on the Jonathan series, Jonathan Davies, Sarra Elgan, Eleri Sion and Rowland Phillips spring a surprise early birthday celebration on the former referee.

Believing that he was recording a special 'best-of' edition of the rugby chat-show, Nigel was visibly shocked to learn that the programme was instead a tribute to him, just before he turns 50 years old.

Nigel also hangs up the whistle as a professional rugby referee at the end of the season, ending a career which saw him take charge of the 2015 World Cup final and win fans the world over for his unique, no nonsense style.

He said: "It's harder to accept the fact that I'm 50 than retiring! Retiring came easy to be honest.

"I'm still going to do a bit of refereeing next year, local games and semi-pro games, and I'm coaching a couple of young referees, which takes up some of my time.

"Of course, I have plenty of work to do on the farm now, and I'll still be on Jonathan of course!"

In the show, we hear from his father Geraint, his partner Barry, and his friends, including Premier League Darts Champion and fellow Pontyberem resident, Jonny Clayton.

A host of famous faces also paid tribute to Nigel, including members of the Coronation Street cast, opera singer Sir Bryn Terfel, actor Matthew Rhys, One Show host Alex Jones and Radio One's Scott Mills and Chris Stark.

There were also countless well-wishers from the rugby world, including perhaps most notably, former Italy fly-half Tobias Botes, the man on the receiving end of Nigel's most famous on-field quip: "This is not soccer!"

One of the rugby players to leave Nigel a message was Scotland and British and Irish Lions full-back Stuart Hogg.

He said: "Nige, sir, I want to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy 50th birthday mate. I also want to wish you all the very best in retirement.

"You've been absolutely outstanding for world rugby for many, many years, up there with the best referees to ever be involved in the game, so many congratulations on that.

"I'll always remember you telling me; "if you want to do that, come back in two weeks." I have never, ever lived that down! Good times mate."

Former New Zealand great Dan Carter said: "Happy birthday Nigel from all the way here in New Zealand. Now you've retired - "no swearing please, you're on telly."

"I'll never forget the day you told me not to swear in the 2015 World Cup, just one of the many great memories of you refereeing us.

"So all the best and I apologise for my poor Welsh accent!"

Former Springbok legend Brian Habana added: "Mr Owens, penblwydd hapus! Happy 50th birthday.

"In half a century you have become an iconic figure, not only on the rugby field but off it as well.

"It's brilliant to have shared quite a few memories with you on the rugby field, like being on the receiving end of your wrath or your comedic colloquialisms!

"But you know the respect that I have for you and what you stood for, your morals, and the manner in which you showed the beauty of the game we so dearly love to play."

Watch Nigel Owens 50 from 9.00pm on Friday night, on S4C, or on demand on S4C Clic. English subtitles available.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?