Finals video referee takes break after being harassed online

English referee Tom Foley has decided to put his international career on hold due to a “torrent of criticism and insults online” received after officiating in the 2023 World Cup final, the English Rugby Federation (RFU) announced on Monday.

“Having reached the pinnacle of refereeing at the Rugby World Cup final, I believe the time is right for a break at international level,” Tom Foley said in an RFU statement.

“The right decision at this stage of my life”

“The pressure and scrutiny I faced after the final, as well as the torrent of criticism and insults online, reassured me that this was the right decision to make at this stage of my life,” he explained.

During the World Cup final in France, won by South Africa against New Zealand (12-11) on October 28, Tom Foley officiated as video referee alongside central referee Wayne Barnes, also a victim of online harassment after the meeting.

“The insults he has suffered since the final (…) just like the other referees in this match, are completely unacceptable and no one should be treated like this while doing their job for a sport for which they are so passionate,” lamented RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney.

Foley refereed 16 VI Nations matches

“We will do everything in our power to help combat abuse aimed at referees and players, and we invite all those involved in our sport to consider the role they can play in defending the values ​​of rugby” , he added.

Since 2016, Tom Foley has refereed 48 international matches, including 16 during the Six Nations Tournament and eight during the 2023 World Cup. “Being an international referee takes you away from home for long periods of time and I am looking forward to being able to spend more time at home with my young children,” added the referee who will continue to officiate in the English championship.

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