The individual who served as the television match official for the Rugby World Cup final has made the decision to step back from the international game “for the foreseeable future” following a wave of criticism and abuse online. Englishman Tom Foley, who made several consequential decisions during the final match between New Zealand and South Africa, including recommending a red card for All Blacks captain Sam Cane, expressed that the pressure and scrutiny he faced, along with the online abuse, reinforced his choice to step away. Foley’s decision echoes that of match referee Wayne Barnes, who announced his retirement from all officiating due to the online abuse that he and his family endured after the final.
The Rugby Football Union (RFU) expressed their full support for Foley’s decision and condemned the abuse aimed at match officials and players. The RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney emphasized the need to uphold rugby values and protect against the mistreatment of match officials and players.
Additionally, the Wallabies have confirmed a four-Test tour for 2024, marking the 40th anniversary of their 1984 Grand Slam tour by playing the four home nations. Meanwhile, Fiji rugby union international Api Ratuniyarawa, who was set to play for the Barbarians against Wales, has been facing legal issues after admitting to a series of sex offenses.
In a separate development, former Wales forward Andrew Coombs has revealed his diagnosis of dementia and probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) at the age of 39. This news comes as part of a larger legal claim against the sport’s governing bodies by 295 retired rugby union players who allege they sustained brain injuries during their careers.