Nigel Owens will referee World Cup final, says Grant Fox
Welshman Nigel Owens will referee next weekend's World Cup final at Twickenham, according to New Zealand All Blacks selector Grant Fox.
Fox told New Zealand's Newstalk ZB after Saturday's tense semi-final victory over South Africa that 44-year-old Owens would be in charge for rugby union's biggest showpiece occasion.
The appointment for the final is likely to be announced by World Rugby within the next 48 hours.
Owens was not involved in either of the World Cup semi-finals, but he is widely regarded as the game's premier official.
"Nigel is clearly the best referee in the world - he's demonstrated that," former All Blacks fly-half Fox said.
"We knew before this game (South Africa) that he had that job should we get the opportunity to play in that game (the final).
"One of the key things he does, apart from communicating incredibly well with players, is that he lets the breakdown breathe, and that is really important.
"If you want to get a good contest and spectacle, you have got to let the breakdown breathe a little bit, and he is really, really good at that."
Three British and Irish referees have previously controlled World Cup finals.
Owens' fellow Welshman Derek Bevan was in charge at Twickenham 24 years ago when Australia beat England, while England's Ed Morrison was appointed to the 1995 final between South Africa and New Zealand, with Irishman Alain Rolland officiating the England versus South Africa 2007 final.