Cape Town - Top referee Nigel Owens has opened up on his experience at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, while revealing the heart-warming gesture made by England and All Blacks skippers Owen Farrell and Kieran Read which left him in tears.

In a column for Wales Online, Owens reflected on his eight weeks in Japan which culminated in the semi-final between England and New Zealand, a match the English won 19-7 to book their place in the final

According to the RugbyPass website, along with praising the World Cup as a “brilliant” edition of the tournament, Owens said it was a gesture made by Farrell and Read which he considered the highlight.

“There was also a lovely moment at the end of the game when, unbeknown to me, my TMO, South Africa's Marius Jonker, had arranged for Owen Farrell and Kieran Read, the respective captains, to sign the match ball for me,” he wrote.

“Marius and my touch judges held a little presentation in the changing room when they handed over the ball. I can tell you there was a little tear in my eyes, I got a bit emotional, knowing it was my final World Cup game and this was such a lovely note upon which to finish.

“Owen and Kieran had each written ‘Best wishes Nige.’ They are a credit to the sport, two top quality players, but who are also brilliant captains and are impressive characters on and off the pitch.

“From my own experience as a referee, you rarely get a moment’s trouble with either of them. Very dignified individuals, great role models.”

Owens, who also blew the opening match of the tournament between hosts Japan and Russia, ruled himself out of contention for the final with a calf injury.