Why was Nigel Owens speaking Welsh during the France v Italy game?
Referee Nigel Owens spoke Welsh in the France and Italy game – as he shouted instructions at Italian scrum-half Stephen Varney.
Stephen Varney qualified for Italy through his Italian mother, Valeria, but comes from Rhoshill, Pembrokeshire, and played for Crymych RFC.
Varney made his international debut for Italy, from the bench, in the Autumn Nations Cup against Scotland, before playing against France today.
Nigel Owens shouted at Varney to “aros” to ensure that he didn’t drift offside during the game, and then had a conversation with him about it being OK to pop the ball into the scrum in the “canol” – the middle.
Nigel Owens warning Italian Scrum half to stay onside… in Welsh. da iawn Nige 👍#nigelowens
— Emyr Wyn (@emyrwyn1) November 28, 2020
Nigel Owens shouting at Italy’s number 21 (Stephen Varney) in *Welsh* is quite a thing to hear when you’re not really paying attention to the game! #FRAvITA
— Owen McArdle (@McArdle_Owen) November 28, 2020
— Ian (@herrbartlett1) November 28, 2020
Owens became the first to take charge of 100 Tests when he officiated the Autumn Nations Cup match between France and Italy.
The 49-year-old is planning to retire at the end of this season, and perhaps wanted to celebrate the occasion by speaking his native tongue.
The game ended in another defeat for Italy as they succumbed to a flurry of late tries, losing 36-5 at the Stade de France.