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Nigel brings up 150 Pro12 matches

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Nigel Owens is the most experienced referee in the Pro 12 competition.

By Paul Dobson, Moonsport

Nigel Owens will referee his 150th Championship game in the Pro12 at Cardiff's Principality Stadium when he oversees Newport-Gwent Dragons vs Scarlets in their Judgement Day V fixture on Saturday, 15 April 2016.

The 45-year-old Welshman is the most experienced referee in the Pro 12 and made his first appearance in the Celtic League when he took charge of Border Reivers vs Connacht on 30 August 2002.

Since then Owens has gone on to take charge of four Finals in the Championship and five European Cup Finals, all of which led to his appointment as a referee for the 2015 World Cup Final between New Zealand and Australia at Twickenham.

Speaking ahead of the Judgement Day V fixture, Owens said: "It is quite humbling to think that this weekend's game between Newport-Gwent Dragons and Scarlets in the Pro 12 will be my 150th appearance in the Championship.

"It has been an incredible journey since taking charge of my first Celtic League game in 2002 and it's fantastic to see how the Championship has progressed to host events such as Judgement Day. For me, the Pro 12 is up there with the big days of international and European rugby because of cross-border clashes, the mix of cultures and the tribal derby games that we see in Italy, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

"As a referee, it's very rewarding to officiate games in the Pro 12 where the levels of positive play are a match for any tournament in the world. Having been involved in every Judgement Day event so far, I can definitely say that these derby games have an extra edge and level of intensity to them.

"The crowds at Judgement Day have grown every year which shows you how passionate the Welsh public are about their rugby and long may that continue. Of course, I feel especially privileged to have been selected to officiate the game between Newport-Gwent Dragons and Scarlets.

"This sport has provided me with many opportunities to oversee top-class games in the some of the world's greatest rugby venues and being out there at Principality Stadium for Judgement Day V will be right up there with them.

"Everyone in sport aspires to be on the pitch on days such as this, but it requires hard work and dedication. Along with my colleagues, the majority of our efforts to prepare, review and improve goes unseen, however, the structures and support we have is a great credit to our unions, everyone in the refereeing departments and our tournament organisers.

"I would also like to say a special thanks to Ed Morrison at Pro 12 Rugby [independent referee appointments commissioner] who is retiring at the end of the season,” Owens said.

David Jordan, Tournament Director for the Pro 12, offered his congratulations to Owens for becoming the first referee in the history of the tournament to reach 150 appearances.

"Nigel Owens is recognised all across the world of rugby because he is one of the best officials in the game. In the Pro12, we consider ourselves very fortunate to have a referee of his calibre in our squad of officials and this milestone is a credit to his dedication,” Jordan said.

"It is also a wonderful reminder to us all that the game of rugby is nothing without referees and the spirit of volunteerism that goes along with that. I hope that Nigel's achievements would encourage others to take up the whistle and follow the path that some of our upcoming referees are now treading.

"I would like to offer Nigel our congratulations on making his 150th appearance and wish him the best of luck at Judgement Day V where we know the intensity of the games will border on Test level.”

Nigel Owens's career statistics

Pro 12 Championship
• 149 Appearances
• 60 appearances ahead of George Clancy (2nd highest on 89)
• 4 Finals: 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016
• 110 Yellow cards
• 6 Red cards
• 16 Penalty tries
• 5,984 points have been scored in his 149 games
That's an average of 40 points a game
• 635 tries have been scored in his 149 games
That's an average of 4.3 per game

European Competition
• 109 total appearances
• 98 games in the European Cup
• 5 European Cup Finals: 2008; 2009; 2012; 2015; 2016
• 2 Challenge Cup Finals: 2007; 2013

International Competition
• 76 Test games
• 17 Six Nations
• 12 Rugby Championship
• 1 RWC Final: 2015
• 3 World Cups: 2007; 2011; 2015

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