“I hope your family dies in a terrible car accident. I will hunt you down and slit your throat.” These are the kind of messages received by Tom Foley, video referee of the Rugby World Cup final, since the end of the competition, won by South Africa against New Zealand (12-11), on 28 last October at the Stade de France. The Englishman spoke this week about the death threats he receives in the podcast of another English referee, Sara Cox, and quoted by Rugby Rama.
“Most of them (editor’s note: threats) are acceptable,” he sighs. Much of it comes from keyboard fighters. But when they have enough information that it becomes a problem, that’s when it becomes concerning. »
Tom Foley explains in particular that the school where his children attend also received threatening messages. Comments which follow those of Wayne Barnes, main referee of the final, who was also threatened with death and who has since retired.
Wayne Barnes the referee of the World Cup final between New Zealand and South Africa. Photo LP / Olivier Corsan LP / Olivier Corsan
“As a referee, we know that we can get into trouble at one point or another,” adds Tom Foley in the podcast. We knew that by refereeing a Rugby World Cup final between two teams who had enjoyed such success, we were going to receive criticism, regardless of who won or lost. But none of us thought it would get this big. »
World Rugby has revealed that it has documented more than 2,000 threatening messages posted on social media by around 600 people since the World Cup final.