South Africa court Nigel Owens to help in RWC preparations

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Reports from the Republic have their director of rugby Rassie Erasmus chasing former Welsh referee Nigel Owens to serve as their referee coach in France.

Springbok team management approached the South Africa Rugby Board about the idea and was asked to prepare a preferred list of referees – Owens topped the wish list.

Owens, the first to referee 100 Tests, controlled the 2015 World Cup final when New Zealand beat Australia to become the first team to win three World Cups while also becoming the first to win consecutive tournaments in 2011 and 2015.

An obstacle in South Africa's way is Owens' work helping train referees for World Rugby, although when contacted for comment, he said he hadn't heard anything about the move, but it would be an honour to work with a team.

Should Owens not be available, the reports said the South Africans were likely to look to employ a coach from within their structure.

Other teams have employed referees to work with them in the past. It has become a feature of French club rugby while Jérôme Garces works with the French national coach Fabien Gathié.


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