BBC explains ‘Nigel Owens is a gay’ caption gaffe during England v Scotland rugby match

Nick Duffy February 27, 2018
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DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 26: Referee Nigel Owens during The Rugby Championship Bledisloe Cup match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the Australia Wallabies at Forsyth Barr Stadium on August 26, 2017 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The BBC has issued a clarification after on-screen subtitles during a rugby match included the text “Nigel Owens is a gay”.

The bizarre incident happened during the coverage of the England v Scotland Six Nations rugby match on Saturday.

The match was officiated by out rugby referee Nigel Owens, one of the most prominent gay men in the sport.

So eyebrows were raised during the match when the BBC’s subtitled included the caption “Nigel Owens is a gay”.

The caption read “Nigel Owens is a gay penalty and yellow card”, before quickly being corrected to read “Nigel Owens is saying penalty and yellow card.”

The BBC has since spoken out to explain the gaffe.

A spokesperson told Ruck: “Our live subtitling service produces accuracy levels in excess of 98% but, as with all broadcasters, there are instances – particularly during live broadcasts – when mistakes happen.

“On this occasion the voice recognition subtitling software made an error which was spotted and corrected immediately.”

Owens has previously spoken extensively about his sexuality.

Nigel Owens before the NatWest Six Nations match between Scotland and France at Murrayfield on February 11, 2018 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images)

He said: “When I became a referee, it became clear that there was nobody in the sport who was gay.

“The rugby world is very heterosexual and masculine, and this made things difficult. Although that’s not to say that the sport is openly homophobic. It was just never an environment where I felt like I could be myself.

“People have to see that some things are unacceptable. Discrimination of any kind has no place in our sport or society.

“I have been accepted by 99 per cent of people in rugby, but there will always be that one per cent. They need to know that they’re completely wrong and sometimes all this takes is for someone to go, ‘hang on, you can’t do that’.”

He added: “There are always going to be a small number of bullies out there. They’re in the minority, yet they have a huge impact on people’s lives, and they shouldn’t. What people need to know is that they shouldn’t be afraid.”

More: Gay, Nigel Owens, Rugby, sport

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