Belfast Telegraph

Rugby referee Nigel Owens tweets about flight delay... and finds himself centre of Ryanair v Aer Lingus ambush marketing

Top international rugby referee Nigel Owens unwittingly found himself at the centre of a guerrilla twitter advertising campaign by Ryanair today.

Mr Owens is to referee the final Ireland match against Australia tomorrow and he was flying in early to appear at a questions and answers session at Blackrock College. However, his Aer Lingus flight was delayed from Bristol  airport and Mr Owens took to Twitter to express his disappointment.

“Due to do a Q&A at Blackrock College Dublin this morning for some of the kids project work, Flight delayed for 2hours. Sorry I won’t make it,” he tweeted.

A short time later, the ref took to Twitter again to complain directly to Aer Lingus about his lack of movement.

“Flight delayed again now till at least 12.15pm. Been sat in Bristol airport since 7am now. @AerLingus whats going on? AR1 Ire v Aus tomo”

Quick as a flash, Ryanair nipped in to tweet Owens, with a bit of free advertising to his101,000 followers: “We’ll get you to the Aviva on time Nigel, on the lowest fares & you can pack extra whistles in your 2 free bags!”

Later Mr Owens took to Twitter again for a status update: “No estimated time now leaving Bristol is 12.10 nightmare”

With no response from Aer Lingus, Mr Owens told Ryanair he’d be flying with them in the future. "Good to hear the luggage is all sorted. Next time now."

Ryanair’s official tweeter, who was warming to the theme now, informed Owens that they'd be happy to fly him in future and got a dig in at another rival airline: “We look forward to welcoming you on board. Good luck tomorrow. *We’re also much cheaper than Qantas;)”

Eventually Aer Lingus came back to Owens with the message: “We're sincerely sorry about the delay, Nigel. This is due operational reasons.”

Owens, known for his strict style of referring, replied with; “It happens I guess. You will have to apologise to the kids at Blackrock College though.”

Thankfully, the tale had a happy ending, though as Owens revealed that his speaking gig at Blackrock was pushed back to 3pm, allowing him to make the engagement.

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