Author(s): Nigel Owens
The autobiography of international rugby referee Nigel Owens, the sport's first openly gay personality. He was the only Welsh referee at the 2007 Rugby World Cup and is seen by players and fans alike as one of the best refs in the world. Owens tells of his tormented teenage years in a Welsh village and his attempted suicide in his 20s. He also recounts how he became a heavy user of steroids and suffered with bulimia. But this is a story of triumph over adversity, as he overcame his difficulties to become a highly-respected referee and a favorite figure in the rugby world. He has also become a Welsh-language TV personality and comedian.
Written in conjunction with Lynn Davies, this is an update on the Welsh version published in 2008. It is a portrayal of his early years: his 16-year-old choice to referee rather than play and his gradual rise through the ranks to what he considered his apogee in 2009. It is also a disturbingly honest account of his efforts to come to terms with being gay, including a weak effort at suicide in 1996. He says he received support from colleagues, friends and fellow entertainers when he decided to come out - something literally shown on the Jonathan programme on which he regularly appeared. The joshing seems to have been successful therapy. He emerges as a close family man strongly parochial in his ties to his home area of the Gwendraeth valley and the village of Mynyddcerrig, an almost spiritual attachment in a Gravellesque manner. He is unhappy with long journeys and extended stays away from home. Derek Bevan was his refereeing mentor and Clive Norling his guide through the hierarchy of the WRU system after he became professional in 2002. His first-class debut was Swansea and Caerphilly in 2001, Gavin Henson's first game for Swansea. Refereeing decisions whether pre game - waterlogged or frosted pitches, split second on field decisions - or post game coach and press incidents are fully dealt with and give interesting insights. Players such as Healy and Dallaglio are recorded as attempted referee manipulators. He would allow video evidence for foul play to be added to the present Television Match Official's role. Internationally his break through came in 2006 - major Heineken Cup fixtures and Italy v Australia came his way. He was selected as one of twelve World Cup referees in 2007, receiving only 3 Pool games which disappointed him. 2008-9 saw many big games and he regards 2009 as his best season in the way he felt he refereed and his assessors' reports. In those years he officiated at two successive Heineken Cup Finals, as well as the Harlequins v Leinster Bloodgate game. The book is an easy afternoon's read with plenty of interesting detail of top-level games, difficult travelling circumstances and the minutiae of rugby life at the top. Geoffrey Edwards It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council. Gellir defnyddio'r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatad Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru. -- Welsh Books Council