Welsh international rugby referee Nigel Owens almost didn’t make it to Munster’s Rabo Pro 12 clash on Saturday night after his flight from Bristol to Shannon was unexpectedly diverted to Dublin with a technical problem.
Owens was scheduled to be the man in the middle for Munster’s game with Glasgow at Thomond Park but yet again, he was hit by a flight delay.
Since last December, while on this way to fixtures, Owens has suffered two flight cancellations as well as several delays and a diversion.
On Saturday, Aer Lingus Regional flight EI-3655, operated by Aer Arann, left Bristol on schedule at 1.05pm however the ATR-42 aircraft later diverted to Dublin with a technical issue.
The flight landed in Dublin safely at 1.39pm but was grounded while engineers investigated the issue. The nature of the problem is not known and was not revealed by the airline.
Another ATR-42 aircraft was seconded to accommodate passengers and take them onto Shannon. There were 26 passengers in all on board the flight.
While waiting to continue his journey, Nigel Owens took to Facebook and Twitter saying: “I don’t believe this. Been diverted to Dublin now waiting to take off from here to Shannon. Every flight over here this year has had problems.”
Later he tweeted: “It’s going to be touch and go if I make it in time for kick-off now at Thomond Park. Still on runway in Dublin.”
However, Owens’ flight finally departed Dublin at 3.15pm and arrived in Shannon shortly after 4.00pm.
Mr Owens then updated his Twitter and Facebook followers by saying: “Just landed in Shannon. On way to hotel now for a quick change and head straight to Thomond Park. Should be there an hour before I hope.”
He also thanked the ‘so many’ who had offered him a lift from Shannon Airport. “Very kind of you. Rugby community at it’s best,” he said.
Mr Owens made it to Thomond Park in time to officiate over the clash which saw Glasgow beat the Heineken Cup semi-finalists 22-5.
An Aer Arann spokeswoman said: “EI-3655 diverted to Dublin due to a technical issue. All 26 passengers were transferred to another aircraft and landed in Shannon at 4:08pm.”
Earlier this year, Owens had to bow out of refereeing the Rabo Pro 12 clash of Munster and Italian side Zebre after his flight was cancelled. He went on to referee another competition meeting in Wales instead.
Last December, Mr Owens’ flight to Cork for another Munster game was also cancelled. He had to fly instead to Dublin and travel to Cork by bus.