Nigel Owens, the most capped referee in world rugby, has called time on his distinguished 17-year international career.
Welshman Owens became the first referee to officiate in a century of Tests when he took charge of an Autumn Nations Cup clash between France and Italy last month.
The 49-year-old said it was the perfect milestone with which to bow out of international Tests and the fact that he would not be officiating at the 2023 World Cup in France was a factor in making his decision.
“Nobody has a divine right to go on forever. There comes a time where it’s time to move on so international refereeing will come to end now, that France versus Italy game was my last Test match,” Owens said in a statement.
“To go out on 100 is a good time to go. I’m not going to be around for 2023, I don’t want to be. I still hope to referee in the Pro 14 and locally in Wales this season and maybe next as well.
“I will certainly continue to referee in the community game because when you are very fortunate to get so much out of something, I think it’s hugely important that you give something back to it as well.”
Owens was the longest-serving member of World Rugby’s elite international panel, notably taking charge of the 2015 World Cup final between the victorious All Blacks and the Wallabies, as well as several European Champions Cup finals.
Owens added that he would be moving into a coaching role with the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) to train young referees.
“We currently have five referees including myself refereeing at Pro 14 level so it will be exciting to help them make further progress as well as our other upcoming male and female referees,” he added.