BBC bosses were left red-faced after the words ‘Nigel Owens is a gay’ flashed across TV screens during the England v Scotland rugby match at the weekend.
Rugby fans picked up on the blunder which appeared after 65 minutes when the world’s number one referee sin-binned England substitute Sam Underhill for a shoulder charge during the Calcutta Cup clash at Murrayfield.
The subtitled explanation of the decision read: ‘Yellow card. Nigel Owens is a gay penalty and yellow card.
The BBC quickly corrected it to say: ‘Nigel Owens is saying penalty and yellow card’.
BBC bosses were left red faced after the words ‘Nigel Owens is a gay’ flashed across TV screens
The BBC quickly corrected it to say: ‘Nigel Owens is saying penalty and yellow card’
The blunder appeared after 65 minutes when Nigel Owens carded England flanker Sam Underhill for a shoulder charge
Eagle-eyed viewers picked up on the mistake describing it as a ‘huge blunder’.
Responding to the gaffe a BBC spokesman said: ‘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 had an eventful match, disallowing two England tries during the pulsating encounter in the Scottish capital.
Following some criticism from England fans on social media Owens said: ‘One thing that really gets me going is when people accuse a referee of being a cheat.
‘I will never block anyone on Twitter for thinking I didn’t referee well. What I do block people for is if they call a referee a cheat or accuse them of bias. If somebody says that, they’re gone and blocked.’
The referee was keen to play down the incident with the BBC, telling MailOnline: ‘It’s a honest mistake, it’s happened but I don’t find it offensive. It’s just a mistake.
‘You’ve got to take some of these things with a pinch of salt…people are too easily offended these days.
‘If anyone should take offence to it, then it’s the person involved and that’s me. But I had a laugh about it as there was nothing nasty meant by it.’
Referee Nigel Owens had a busy match on Saturday evening, disallowing two England tries
Owens, the first openly gay man to officiate at the highest level of the game, revealed his sexuality in 2007.
He said the pressure of officiating the 2015 Rugby World Cup final was nothing compared to accepting his homosexuality.
Owens, who was born and raised in the close-knit village of Mynyddcerrig in Carmarthenshire, said realising he was gay felt ‘totally alien’ to him.
He revealed how he ‘would have done anything to be ‘normal’ in people’s eyes’ and asked a doctor if he could be chemically castrated after finding out he was gay.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs last year, he said: ‘Refereeing that World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand in front of 85,000 people and the millions of people watching at home, scrutinising every single decision you make under a huge amount of pressure, was nothing compared to the challenge of accepting who I was.’