WATCH: Referee Wayne Barnes reveals abuse he received after World Cup final

Retired referee Wayne Barnes has opened up about the social media abuse he received after the Rugby World Cup final.

Barnes retired a few days after taking charge of the Springboks’ 12-11 win over the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup final in Paris on 28 October.

Three yellow cards were given throughout the match, while New Zealand captain Sam Cane received one red card during the first half. The contest was not without controversy.

Sports editor Dan Roan of BBC questioned Barnes if he had received abuse following the final in an exclusive interview.

Indeed, it’s the depressing aspect of the sport right now, Barnes admitted. It’s part of the job for all of us to hear people disagree with our judgments and to receive criticism.

However, there comes a point at which threats of violence against you, your spouse, your children, or even just saying “we know where you live” cross a boundary, and that is when individuals need to be held accountable. and need to be penalized as well.


Barnes has taken charge of a record 111 Tests, and has officiated at five World Cups. He showed a first-ever red card in a World Cup final, when Cane’s yellow card for a head-contact tackle was upgraded in the bunker.

Even though the All Blacks outplayed the Springboks and played like 15 men, many people thought the referee’s call was highly important.

In his first interview following his retirement announcement, Barnes discussed the backlash he saw following the championship game and expressed his belief that harassment on social media was becoming worse overall.

“It is my goal to ensure that social media abuse is given more serious attention once I retire,” Barnes stated.

“[Referees] will question themselves, ‘Why do I do this?’ if they are going to face this vitriol and ridicule every week. We must perform better. People fail to see the human aspect of officiating.


The 44-year-old says he is on social media primarily to promote his charity work, but also to promote officiating,

try to humanize it while describing how challenging the work is.

“It’s my decision, and it gives others the opportunity to spread hateful and violent messages.”

ALSO READ: The Rugby and Cricket World Cup Double has only been won by ONE nation.

Barnes claimed that while he could “compartmentalize” the bad aspects of social media, he found it difficult to deal with abuse directed at his family.

“Why should you be allowed to be involved in the rugby family if you’re a fan at your local rugby club and you’re making threats and sending nasty messages to people’s families?” he said.

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