This is one of the big black spots of this World Cup in France. After the New Zealander Ben O'Keeffe, referee of the quarter-final between the Blues and South Africa, Wayne Barnes also received death threats following the final won on Saturday by the Springboks against the All Blacks . The English referee, the most successful referee in history on the international scene (111 matches in charge), was the target of some supporters accusing him of contentious decisions during the match. His wife, Polly, present at the Stade de France with her children, revealed the sending of numerous intimidating messages against her husband.
“What a vile atmosphere at the Stade de France. It’s just a game, b****!” lamented the co-founder of the Women’s Rugby Association on Instagram before adding: “See you next time, the World Cup. I won’t miss you or the death threats!”
These deplorable facts are not the first in sport and rugby. In November 2022, Wayne Barnes and his family had already been threatened after the France-South Africa test match (30-26) played in Marseille.
“Criticism on social media quickly turns into abuse. This is the world we live in. When you've played 100 games, you think you can prepare for most things. You can’t prepare for that,” reacted the 44-year-old referee. “I don't mind people criticizing my performance and, if they want to directly mistreat me, that's their choice. But it’s not just a line that’s been crossed. You couldn't even see the line, it had gone so far. It affects you and it affects your family.”