Welsh referee Nigel Owens swaps rugby boots for wellies after fulfilling lifelong dream of becoming a farmer

  • Full report by Valleys Correspondent Hannah Thomas

Nigel Owens is one of the most famous faces in world rugby after a career spanning decades, but after excelling in one field the referee is taking up the challenges of another as a farmer.

In the Gwendraeth Valley, Carmarthenshire, Nigel has built his farm up from nothing.

''There was nothing here, only the bungalow I live in now,'' he said.

''I managed to buy the thirteen acres around here and it was overgrown with nettles so we cleaned it up. The only thing that was here was a lawnmower to cut the back garden with but that's wasn't going to cut this!

''When you inherit a farm from parents a lot of the stuff is there ready for you. It was a big plunge but I worked hard over the last 30, 40, years saving up.''

Nigel now has a herd of 40 cattle on his farm Credit: ITV Wales

Nigel now has a herd of 40 Hereford cows that he cares for with the help of his partner Barrie. A primary school teacher by day, Barrie enjoys taking care of the animals in his spare time.

''It's such a good thing for me to have the Herefords here because it's a good escape,'' Barrie said.

''Teaching is very demanding so when I go home it's nice to switch off, come down to the sheds and spend some time with the animals and switch off.''

Nigel has help and support from his partner Barrie Credit: ITV Wales

This Saturday, Nigel will make history and become the first to referee 100 test matches when he takes charge of France’s Autumn Nations Cup clash with Italy.

Having refereed some of the biggest rugby matches over the years, it may come as a surprise to learn that for Nigel one of his most exciting days was the arrival of his first cattle.

''I was more excited at coming home and getting the first cattle arriving than I was refereeing the semi-final of the world cup!'' he said.

''It was an unbelievable feeling of excitement. I was like a little kid getting into the sweet shop the first time.''

Nigel Owens refereeing the semi-final of the Rugby World Cup Credit: PA

With the dream of owning a farm now a reality, Nigel now has more than enough to keep him occupied should he decide to hang up his rugby boots.

When he blows that last whistle, his plan is to enjoy every minute of what this new way of life will bring.

''My dad is 85 now, and he won't thank me for telling anybody, but I want to be home with him and family.

''I've enjoyed every minute of refereeing but it's nice when you can spend a bit more time at home.''

  • You can see more on Nigel's farming ambitions on Coast & Country, tonight at 7:30pm on ITV Cymru Wales