‘Nothing else like it’ – Why Nigel Owens ranks the Six Nations better than the Rugby Championship

Jared Wright
Six Nations and The Rugby Championship logo plus ex-referee Nigel Owens.

Six Nations and The Rugby Championship logo plus ex-referee Nigel Owens.

Nigel Owens ranks the Six Nations as the “greatest rugby tournament” outside of the Rugby World Cup.

The former referee has officiated games all over the world, and while he admires the Rugby Championship, featuring Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, he believes the Northern Hemisphere tournament is better.

The Six Nations is dubbed as ‘Rugby’s Greatest Championship’, a tagline that Owens seemingly agrees with as he believes that no other annual tournament has the same amount of away support.

‘Special’ Six Nations

“I’ve refereed matches across all levels, at the World Cup, in the Rugby Championship, some crucial, title-deciding games. But for me, nothing is as special as the Six Nations,” Owens wrote in his Wales Online column.

“Aside from the World Cup, I would say it is the greatest rugby tournament in the world. Its history, its fans, it just makes it so special.

“You get such intense rivalries and when teams like England and Wales meet just once a year, it really is a massive event.

“There’s a reason why millions of people tune in to watch from around the world when they probably wouldn’t watch a rugby match the rest of the year.”

Owens was the first man to officiate 100 Test matches during his career, taking charge of international games involving 25 nations in total.

Why the Rugby Championship is not the same

He added that the Six Nations is the tournament that all referees want to be involved with and is where the officials know that they have really made it. He compared it to the Southern Hemisphere equivalent.

“As a referee, you always want to be involved in the Six Nations. It’s the tournament that really makes you feel as if you’ve made it as an international referee. There’s really nothing else like it,” he wrote.

“Crowds play a big part in that. Taking charge of Rugby Championship games and things like that just isn’t the same. Yes, the quality of some of the games would be top-notch, but atmosphere-wise, there is nothing like the Six Nations.

“Say you’re refereeing South Africa at home against New Zealand. Other than maybe a handful of All Black fans, the vast majority of the crowd is going to be made up of Springbok supporters, so the atmosphere is special but mostly one-sided.

“But this weekend, thousands of Welsh supporters will be going over to Dublin to either go to the stadium or fill the city’s bars and pubs to watch the match. There will be a lot of trips to other destinations in the Emerald Isle to watch the game too.

“There will be a fantastic noise inside the Aviva and all around the city, particularly given the rivalry this fixture has taken on in the last 15 years or so.

“Ireland are phenomenal at present but Gatland will be instilling belief into his young side, so it should be an exciting game for both sets of supporters.”

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