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Nigel Owens to ref 100th test during Autumn Nations Cup

DUBLIN (AP) — Nigel Owens will become the first referee to take charge of 100 rugby tests when he controls France vs. Italy in November during the Autumn Nations Cup. Owens is on 98 tests. The next one is also part of the one-off Nations Cup, England-Georgia on Nov. 14 at Twickenham, then France-Italy on Nov. 28.

The Welshman made his test debut as a ref in 2003, controlled the 2015 Rugby World Cup final, and became the most capped ref in tests in 2016. He planned to retire after the Rugby World Cup last year in Japan but he put it off because he said he was encouraged by officials and players to continue. His last test as a ref was in February, when France beat England in the Six Nations.

In another appointment on Thursday, Joy Neville of Ireland will become the first woman to perform Television Match Official duty in a major men’s competition. Neville, who refereed the final of the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup, will be the TMO for Wales-Georgia and Scotland-Fiji in the Nations Cup.

"We are committed to accelerating development of women in rugby through diversifying and normalizing women in leadership positions, both on and off the field. Joy, like all the appointed referees, has earned this opportunity,” World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said.

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