Rugby idols receive honorary degrees from University of South Wales

International rugby referee Nigel Owens and Namibia head rugby coach Phil Davies were awarded honorary degrees from the University of South Wales. Nell Gibson

Phil Davies and Nigel Owens


International rugby referee Nigel Owens and Namibia head rugby coach Phil Davies were awarded honorary degrees from the University of South Wales today.

The proud Welshmen were awarded honorary doctorates of the University during the summer graduation ceremonies on Treforest Campus.

Nigel, who is originally from Mynyddcerrig, Carmarthenshire, was appointed an international referee in 2005, and that year officiated at his first international between Ireland and Japan in Osaka.

In 2015 he was appointed as the referee for the Rugby World Cup Final between New Zealand and Australia at Twickenham.

On being presented with his honorary degree, Nigel said: “I am honoured and humbled to receive this award from the University of South Wales.

“My advice to today’s graduates would be to grab any opportunities that come your way, and always remember your roots.

“One of the most fundamental values of my sport is respect, and that’s something that’s lacking in today’s society. We are all different but it’s important to respect each other’s differences and treat each other equally. You have the opportunity to make society a better place through respecting others.”

Former Llanelli player Phil, who was awarded 46 Welsh caps during his playing career, made his first international appearance in 1987 in the so-called “Battle of Cardiff”, where his brother-in-law, Jonathan Davies, also made his debut.

Of his honorary degree, Phil added: “My relationship with the University of South Wales has been a very rich and rewarding experience. I’m very honoured to receive this award for myself and family, to whom I owe so much, and cannot thank them enough for the support they have given me over the past 30-plus years as a player and professional coach.”