Welsh rugby referee Nigel Owens reveals battle with bulimia

Welsh rugby union referee Nigel Owens has revealed he has been battling an eating disorder for almost three decades.

The 46-year-old has struggled with bulimia nervosa since the age of 18 and the condition even affected him during England's tour of Argentina last month, when he estimates he made himself sick "three to four times" during the two-week tour.

Owens, who refereed the 2015 Rugby World Cup final, will tell his story on BBC's Panorama programme on Monday night, explaining that his battle began when he was trying to come to terms with his sexuality.

"I was 16.5 stones. My belly was hanging over the front of my trousers. There was no way these guys were going to fancy me looking like that, so I started making myself sick," said Owens.

"For those who are caught up in eating disorders and say there's nothing they can do about it, I understand what they are saying because it takes you over and you feel there is nothing you can do.

"But I would urge anyone suffering to do something - seek professional advice, tell people about it. Don't hide it, don't lie about it, that's a great first step.

"I thought I was in control but since making the Panorama programme, I've realised I'm not. I came back from refereeing the England summer tour in Argentina a few weeks ago. While I was out there I made myself sick three to four times - I think because I was eating more food than I needed.

"It's been a reality check. Speaking to experts I acknowledge now that I need to do something, to sit down and speak to someone and try and get this out of my life forever."

Owens also admitted he would make himself sick after every meal and used a bowel condition he had as the reason behind his frequent bathroom visits.

He said: "I suffered from mild colitis, so would use that as an ideal excuse to friends when I had to slip off to the toilet all the time.

"I was lying and being sly. Before long I was bringing up every meal I ate."

More in this Section

Guardiola making no promises despite Foden’s ‘quality’

Tyson Fury set for title shot after victory against Francesco Pianeta

Cork through to another All-Ireland camogie final

Cristiano Ronaldo begins life in Serie A with Juventus victory

Today's Stories

Kicking the league when it’s down a mug’s game

If Limerick engineer the goal chances, Gillane won’t keep missing

John Kiely takes on the hype at its own game

The victors will be the worthiest All-Ireland champions in history. That’ll be Limerick.

More From The Irish Examiner