MID and West MS Helen Mary Jones, used a 90 second statement in the Senedd to praise the achievements of Pontyberem referee Nigel Owens.
Helen Mary Jones MS, Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for the Economy, Transport and Tackling Poverty, speaking in the Senedd said:
“Last month, rugby referee Nigel Owens put Pontyberem on the map when he made history, becoming the first referee to reach 100 international test matches as he took charge of the Autumn Nations Cup match between France and Italy in Paris. He is an international icon who continues to be deeply rooted in his local community.
“For the community of Pontyberem, there have been many sports stars that have shone this year. I would also like to congratulate Jonny Clayton, from the world of darts, and Welsh rugby international Kieran Hardy.
“Nigel Owens is respected across the rugby union as one of the world’s finest referees. He made his international debut officiating Portugal versus Georgia in February 2003. He has refereed the 2015 Rugby World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand, and several European club finals. Last week, Nigel announced his imminent retirement from international rugby, bringing an end to his 17-year international career.
“While he’s blown his whistle on his international days at the pinnacle of the game, he believes there’s more work to be done here in Wales. He clearly wants to continue refereeing in the community game, and to keep giving back to the sport that he says has done so much for him.
“He says his mentoring role with young, talented referees in Wales is something he’s very excited about, and he wants to work with referees at Pro14 level to help them make further progress, as well as our upcoming male and female referees. Many of us know of his additional career as a radio and television personality. His sense of humour on and off the pitch is clear to see.
“Off the pitch, he said that rugby and the people in the sport saved his life when he came out as gay in 2007, and in doing so he became a role model for many.
“Nigel Owens has always been a fantastic ambassador for Welsh rugby throughout the world, and without a doubt he has put a spotlight on his home community, Pontyberem. On reaching the 100 test milestone, he said he was pleased to have made his family and community proud. I can certainly say that he has made Pontyberem and Wales very proud. Diolch o galon, Nigel.”