South Africa’s most capped Test referee has paid tribute to the world’s most capped Test referee.
Jonathan Kaplan, who blew 70 Tests before hanging up his whistle – which was a record at the time – has called Nigel Owens’ 100th Test on Saturday a “fantastic achievement”.
Owens will officiate his 100th – and possibly final – Test at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis on Saturday when France host Italy in their Autumn Nations Cup clash.
Kick-off is at 22:00 SA time.
Kaplan took to social media to write: Nigel Owens is the best Referee of his generation and deservedly will be the first ref to get to 100 caps – what a fantastic achievement for you @Nigelrefowens. I think you’ve been great for the game, but more than that I think you’re a good man … congratulations!!
Ahead of the match, Owens was presented with a special engraved whistle to commemorate the occasion.
Should Owens, now 49, decide to call it a day after the current international season, his record for Tests officiated may not stand the test of time, with 41-year-old Englishman Wayne Barnes having taken charge of 92 Tests to date.
Former Springbok wing Bryan Habana also paid tribute to Owens, welcoming him to rugby’s ‘centurion club.
Habana played 124 Tests for the Springboks.