Highest capped rugby ref Owens reveals Christmas bulimia relapse

Leading rugby referee Nigel Owens has revealed he suffered a bulimia replase over Christmas.

The Welshman – one of the world’s top referees – made the admission during a programme about awareness of eating disorders broadcast on the Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio Two.

Wales Online reported the 46-year-old had battled bulimia for almost 29 years and he featured in a Panorama television documentary on the subject in 2017.

Asked by BBC Radio Two host Amol Rajan if he felt he had conquered bulimia, Owens said: “If you’d have asked me this two weeks ago, I’d have said yes. But, unfortunately in the last two weeks and the Christmas period, the pressures of Christmas and the drinking and eating too much, I have made myself ill unfortunately once or twice in the last couple of weeks when I see myself putting a bit of weight on, knowing I was too eating too much.”

“It’s an ongoing battle. When I did the Panorama doc, I learnt a lot by speaking to people who had experienced far worse than I did,” Owens said.

“I have been very lucky compared to how much people have suffered with it. I managed to keep it at bay for the best part of seven or eight months but unfortunately it has come back a bit now.

“Not as frequently as the past, but once is still too many. It’s an ongoing battle that I need to think about how am I going to deal with it and get some expert help.”

Owen said, in a transcript published on Wales Online, that he had not “sought any professional help at all”.

“The only pro help I have had was an unofficial one by speaking to the experts during the Panorama programme and having a conversation about my experiences and other people’s experiences.”

Owens revealed in the Panorama documentary that he had made himself sick three or four times while refereeing the England test series in Argentina last June.

The openly gay ref told Panorama his bulimia began at the age of 18 when he was struggling with his sexuality and battling chronic depression.


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