6 Dec 2023

New Zealand Rugby condemns referee abuse

10:27 pm on 6 December 2023
NZ Rugby CEO Mark Robinson

NZ Rugby CEO Mark Robinson Photo: PHOTOSPORT

New Zealand Rugby has called referee abuse unacceptable and CEO Mark Robinson has met with leading officials this week to try to come up with solutions.

Robinson said he also intended to meet with World Rugby to discuss the issue.

Tom Foley, who was the Television Match Official for the Rugby World Cup final, was the latest to end his career citing online vitriol as the primary reason.

Wayne Barnes also spoke of death threats he received in the wake of the All Blacks 2007 quarter final loss to France.

Robinson said they would work with officials across all levels of the game to ensure they were supported.

"It's unacceptable and is a concerning trend in the game, there is certainly some work going on behind the scenes as to what we can do to as it relates to social media, we certainly don't tolerate it we don't support it."

Robinson said NZR backed its officials every step of the way.

"We've got amazing match officials here in New Zealand. We've got a world leading group coming through at the moment that we're massively excited about over the next four year cycle and we want to do everything we can to resource them, support them, coach them, give them all the different tools they can to be successful, both domestically and internationally."

Robinson also revealed in his final media address of the year on Wednesday that he was not concerned about the issue of player retention following the loss of several high profile players off-shore.

Jack Goodhue, Leicester Fainga'anuku, Nepo Laulala and Shannon Frizell were just a handful of players to have signed for clubs in Japan or Europe for 2024.

"We certainly unsurprised by the fact that after a World Cup year, with a number of players departing every four year cycle and sometimes in between, so, there's nothing surprising but we are really clear on our protocols at the moment."

He said while they understand the rugby world is changing, the current policy of not selecting overseas-based All Blacks has long been a recipe for success.

"Those discussions are worth keeping an open mind to but for now, we're really happy with where that that policy sits."

Robinson also said fan enjoyment needs to be at the forefront of all world rugby decisions.

Many fans voiced their frustration at the interventions of television match officials at the Rugby World Cup.

Robinson said they need to work towards a more simplified game.

"We all want the game to grow, don't we? I think anyone in leadership of rugby at the moment has a fundamental duty and obligation to want it to grow. What are some of the things that have to happen to make that happen at a professional game level? Greater tempos greatest spectacles, less interventions."