Rugby World Cup referees get access to police escorts in bid to protect against abuse

The 2023 Rugby World Cup kicks off in Paris on Friday night (REUTERS)
The 2023 Rugby World Cup kicks off in Paris on Friday night (REUTERS)

Referees will have access to police escorts to and from stadiums at the Rugby World Cup to guard against online death threats.

Tournament organisers World Rugby will lay on provisions for top-level protection for their match officials, amid a raft of measures to counteract online abuse.

Top referees have received threats against themselves and their families for some time. And last season a number of such social media abuses were taken so seriously as to press police into service.

Standard Sport understands that one such abuser was understood to have been arrested by French police after making threats to the life of a top referee before a Champions Cup match last season.

Top English referee Wayne Barnes moved to cancel an on-pitch presentation at Twickenham in the autumn, after threats against him and his family surfaced on social media.

World Rugby are determined that this World Cup will be dominated by compelling sporting storylines and not the murkier elements of the internet.

Tournament bosses are at pains to urge the rugby public to respect the officials who strive to deliver a constant elite standard of refereeing.

World Rugby’s new bunker review system will be utilised in order to help reach the correct decision on foul play leading to yellow and red cards.

The bunker review official will run the rule over yellow cards that referees ask to be looked over.

The idea is to relieve the pressure on referees amid the toughest of decisions, letting the game continue while the review official has eight minutes to upgrade to a red, or stay with a sin-binning.