Wales’ top referee Nigel Owens will take charge of the all-Irish Magners League grand final between Munster and Leinster at Thomond Park this Saturday (kick-off 5.05pm).
It will be the Nigel Owens’ 75th Magners League contest and means a quick return to Limerick after controlling the recent semi-final between Munster and the Ospreys.
One of the elite 10 officials named for refereeing duty at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, where each will referee at least four pool matches, Owens has been one of the world’s top referees for a number of years and is no stranger to a Munster v Leinster head-to-head.
One of Mynyddcerrig-born Owens’ favourite rugby memories is the 2009 Heineken Cup semi-final between the two great Irish rivals in front of world record club crowd of 82,208 fans at Croke Park.
The 39-year-old was also in charge of the league semi-final between the two provinces in Dublin last year, when Leinster beat Munster 16-6.
Owens, who controlled his 27th IRB Test when Ireland beat Scotland at Murrayfield in the 2011 RBS 6 Nations made his international refereeing bow in the 2003 IRB match between Portugal and Georgia.
He has refereed two Heineken Cup finals – and Saturday’s teams were both involved and the winners in those showpiece matches.
He was in the middle when Munster beat Toulouse 16-13 at the Millennium Stadium in 2008 and when Leinster triumphed 19-16 against Leicester Tigers at Murrayfield twelve months later.
The 2011 World Cup will be Owens’ second global tournament following his World Cup debut in Lyon, France, for the Argentina against Georgia match.
He will be on duty at the Churchill Cup in England next month and returns to Ireland for the World Cup warm-up match between Declan Kidney’s men and England at the Aviva Stadium on August 27.
His assistant referees for Saturday’s game are fellow Welsh officials Tim Hayes, who is also heading to the Rugby World Cup as a touch judge, and David Jones.