Former International rugby union referee Nigel Owens graced the Harper Adams stage to talk about career and the personal challenges he faced.
In the candid talk, Nigel spoke about his battles with mental health, eating disorders, and accepting who he is.
Nigel, who has had a glittering career as a referee and who is well known for his witty one-liners, spoke about his life on and off the pitch, including his sexuality.
The Welshman spoke at length about the importance of being respectful to each other. He implied how the principles of respect within a game of rugby can be applied to all areas of life.
Nigel said there should be a focus on creating a good place with good people, a culture and environment that allows for everyone to feel accepted and like they belong, regardless of our differences or similarities, and added that we can do this with a great sense of humour.
The packed event was attended by students and staff alike, including Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan and outgoing Students’ Union President, Emily Brown.
Speaking about Nigel’s talk Vice-Chancellor Ken Sloan said afterwards:
“To hear such a frank, insightful and sometimes harrowing life story delivered with such humour, warmth and generosity is rare.
“Our students, staff and visitors listened with such intensity; you could hear a pin drop.
“I am grateful to Nigel for being with us and to Emily Brown and the Students’ Union for organising it.”
Outreach Manager Kim Chadwick-Reaney, who was also in attendance, said :
“As I sat in the audience listening to Nigel, I couldn't help but relate to his story and his journey through life and rugby.
“I am proud gay woman, but I have not always been. It was not until I joined my university rugby team that I felt strong enough and safe enough to step into myself.
“Nigel talked about respect and creating an environment for people to feel safe, accepted, and equal in every sense and rugby did that for me. Prior to this I never felt able to be my true self.
“The culture at my university, within my team and the respect between us all, allowed me to be myself for the first time in my life.
“I can't thank Nigel enough for sharing his journey, the highs and lows because it's important we recognise that whatever journey we are on as individuals is individual to us, but we can all contribute to creating a good space for everyone to belong, feel accepted, safe and respected."
Nigel told his audience that former New Zealand Captain Richie McCaw was the best player he ever refereed, and that Antione Dupont was “probably the best player in the world right now”.