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Openly gay referee to be head official for Rugby World Cup final

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Nigel Owens reaches the pinnacle of the sport and thanks those who helped him through tough times.

Nigel Owens will referee the Rugby World Cup final
Nigel Owens will referee the Rugby World Cup final
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Nigel Owens has battled depression, bulimia and an addiction to steroids as he came to terms with being gay. Now open and comfortable after coming out a few years ago, the Welsh referee has earned the honor of being the head referee for this Saturday's World Cup rugby final between Australia and New Zealand.

Owens is widely considered the best referee in world despite being subjected to homophobic abuse from some fans. He hasn't taken it lying down and got some fans banned for their actions last year. He is to be admired for embracing his sexuality and trying to make a difference in his sport.

This is a huge honor for Owens, akin in the U.S. to a referee named to work the Super Bowl. The final will air live in the U.S. on NBC, Saturday at noon ET.