Rugby World Cup final referee QUITS and says 'abuse became too much' after receiving death threats | The Sun

THE referee who took charge of the Rugby World Cup final has stepped down.

Wayne Barnes has announced his retirement in a statement that cited the rise in online abuse and threats towards Rugby Union referees.

The news comes in the same week that it was revealed by The Telegraph that Barnes and his family had been on the receiving end of death threats during the World Cup in France.

There has been a lot of noise around the officiating of the final between South Africa and New Zealand and it seems that even Barnes himself knew it was time to hang up his whistle.

He posted a statement social media explaining his decision to call it quits on his 20-year career as a referee at the top level.

He said: “Over the past 20 years, I have been in the middle of some of the greatest rugby matches in history,


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“I have seen some of the world’s best players and worked with some of the finest coaches the game has ever produced.

“Last Saturday, I was privileged to referee the Rugby World Cup final between two of the most iconic teams in sport; the All Blacks and the Springboks.

“People often say you will know when it is the right time to retire, and this is clearly the right time for me and for my family.

“My children have missed out on time with their dad for far too long and I am now looking forward to family weekends, sports matches, school assemblies and birthday parties.”

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Barnes took charge of the World Cup final between South Africa and New ZealandCredit: Getty
The Springboks came out on top and retained the trophyCredit: Getty

The Englishman went on to explain that he will continue working hard to make sure referees and officials are protected from the increasing vitriol displayed towards them these days.

He said: “I will continue to advocate for referees and work closely with the International Rugby Match Officials association to ensure match officials across the globe not only have a collective voice but also the appropriate support network for them and their families,

“Particularly as online abuse and threats have become far too regular for all of those involved in the game.”

The Rugby World Cup’s climax between the All Blacks and the Springboks saw South Africa retain the Web Ellis Cup in a dramatic 12-11 victory.

But it was at times overshadowed by questions over officiating as was much of the tournament in France.

Barnes was criticised for sending off New Zealand captain Sam Cane for a dangerous high tackle.

While questions were also asked about a South African try that was ruled out following a TMO review showing a knock-on in the build up.

Fellow referee Ben O’Keeffe came under fire during the tournament for his decisions in both of South Africa’s games against France and England.

Barnes will now step away from the sport he loves having officiated in 17 Six Nations tournaments, ten Premiership finals and three European Champions Cup finals.

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