Nigel Owens has been given a golden whistle to blow into when he becomes the first referee to take charge of 100 Test matches on Saturday night in Paris. The veteran official from Wales is set to officiate the Autumn Nations Cup meeting between France and Italy at the Stade de France.

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Owens refereed his first Test match 17 years ago when he was appointed for the clash of Portugal and Georgia in Lisbon in March 2003 and he has come a long way since then, surpassing some years back the previous record of 71 Test games held by retired South African referee Jonathan Kaplan. 

He took charge of his 99th international when England beat Georgia at Twickenham on November 14 and his milestone 100th appearance has now been marked by the presentation to him of an inscribed golden whistle marking the occasion in Paris on Saturday.

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Prime Video Sport commissioned Acme Whistles to create a commemorative gold whistle and Owens was chuffed with their thought, tweeting: “A massive thanks to Prime Video Sport for these special edition Acme Whistles for my match on Saturday, France vs Italy. I’ll try not to blow it to much. It’s very much appreciated and means a lot.”

Owens’ stellar career enjoyed a 2015 pinnacle when he refereed the World Cup final featuring the All Blacks and Australia, and he comes into Saturday’s game with some interesting career statistics – the showing of 60 yellow cards and seven red in his 17-year stint as a Test game referee.

France and Italy have had mixed luck with Owens in charge of their games, the French winning eleven of 23 matches and the Italians just three in eleven. 

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His 100th-game milestone has generated great reaction on Twitter with World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont, ex-England captain Will Carling, the Springboks and many more among those praising his unprecedented achievement.  

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