Rugby World Cup final TMO stepping away after online abuse

The TV referee for the Rugby World Cup final has stepped away from international football "for the foreseeable future", blaming a "torrent of online criticism and abuse".

England official Tom Foley made a number of important calls in the title match between New Zealand and South Africa in October in Paris, including recommending a red card for All Blacks captain Sam Cane in the first half. The Springboks won 12-11.

Since the World Cup final, match referee Wayne Barnes of England announced his long-awaited retirement and expressed concern about the abuse he and his family received on social media over the years.

Last week, England captain Owen Farrell said he was temporarily stepping away from Test rugby to "prioritise his and his family's mental wellbeing", according to his club Saracens.

Foley has been a referee for 13 years, seven of them in international rugby.

"The pressure and scrutiny I endured after the Rugby World Cup final, along with a torrent of online criticism and abuse, has helped reaffirm that this is the right decision for me at this time in my life." Foley said in a statement. .

"While it is a privilege to be at the center of some of sport's most iconic moments, the increasing levels of vitriol, when the demands and expectations are so high, have led me to this moment."

Foley said last month that some online trolls said they wished their family would "die in a terrible car accident," while others emailed their children's school to dish out abuse.

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said: "The abuse he has suffered since the Rugby World Cup final, along with other officials involved in that game, is totally unacceptable and no one should be treated in this way, making his work for the sport he practices. so committed and passionate.

A dejected Sam Cane reacts to his red card in the World Cup final.

"We will do everything we can to help protect against abuse directed at referees and players, and we urge everyone in our game to consider the role they can play in upholding rugby's values."

Foley refereed in 48 international matches, 16 of them in the Six Nations and eight in the recent Rugby World Cup.

World Rugby announced ahead of the tournament that it would partner with London-based data science company Signify Group to protect officials, players and coaches from online abuse.

World Rugby said the welfare of tournament participants was a priority, that it had zero tolerance for online abuse and would take action where necessary.

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