Richie McCaw and Brian O’Driscoll are just two of the legendary captains that Nigel Owens shared a pitch with during his illustrious career.
But who was the best skipper to deal with on the pitch? That was one of the questions put to Owens during the second episode of his hilarious new YouTube show, Whistle Watch.
Sorry to disappoint fans of Ireland and the All Blacks, but one player came out above both O’Driscoll and McCaw on the former match official’s list.
“If I'd have to pick one, I'd go for Thierry Dusautoir,” he said. “You were such a gentleman, a great player.
“I remember telling him one game 'Thierry, I'm really sorry I don't speak French'. And he said: 'Nigel, I don't care. I just want the best referee to referee the game. I don't care about your French’.
“And, I thought, did he actually say the best referee there?”
‘That really did mean a lot’
Watch the second episode of Whistle Watch above and be sure to check the official World Rugby YouTube channel every Wednesday for the latest instalment.
In this week’s Q&A Owens was also asked when he felt most appreciated by the players during his career as a referee.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Rugby World Cup 2015 final was high in Owens’ thinking.
“I'd like to think it would be every time I blow the final whistle, they'd appreciate what I've gone through for 80 minutes to try and help them enjoy the game,” he said.
“One that sticks out was David Pocock in the World Cup final, where after [Australia had] lost the World Cup final the first thing he did was come up and say, 'Nigel, thanks very much for reffing a great game'. That really did mean a lot.”
Jonny May grabbed the headlines last weekend when he produced an acrobatic finish to help give England victory against Italy in the Six Nations.
The try incited a flurry of debate on social media, including from former England and British and Irish Lions scrum-half Matt Dawson, and now Owens has had his say.
“If you think that Jonny May has actually jumped to avoid the tackle, then it should be 'no try'. If you think he's done it in the action of diving to score a try, then the try stands.”
Last week, the World Rugby Executive Committee approved new law variations for trial in this year’s Super Rugby AU and Super Rugby Aotearoa competitions.
And, Owens is particularly looking forward to seeing one of the potential new laws being implemented.
He said: “I’m really excited about this [law variation] and I've been a big advocate of trialling this, and that is the captain's challenge to the TMO.
“So, if there's an incident in the last five minutes, or anything to do with foul play, or in the lead-up to a try being scored, the captain will be able to go to the referee and say, 'I'd like to have that checked, please’.
“And, that'll be one challenge per game. And, that will be fair for everybody involved in the game. So, looking forward to see how that works out.”
It certainly would have been interesting to see how O’Driscoll, McCaw or Dusautoir used a captain’s challenge!