Owens set to referee RWC final

Nigel Owens has been all but confirmed as the referee for next weekend's Rugby World Cup by All Blacks selector Grant Fox.

Fox revealed that New Zealand had been told that Owens would be taking charge of the final before their semi-final win over South Africa.

Jérôme Garcès and Wayne Barnes have taken charge of the two last-four games to free up Owens for next weekend, even though World Rugby are yet to confirm his appointment.

Owens was a touch judge four years ago in the 2011 World Cup final.

"Nigel is clearly the best referee in the world – he's demonstrated that," Fox told Newstalk ZB.

"We knew before this game (the semi-final) that he had that job should we get the opportunity to play in that game (the final).

"Like all referees, he will make the odd error, that happens, like players make mistakes.

"But there's no doubt with Nigel that one of the key things he does, apart from communicating incredibly well with the players, is he lets the breakdown breathe and that's really important.

"Because if you want a good contest, a good spectacle, you've actually got to let the breakdown breathe a little bit and he's really, really good at that."