Polly Barnes, Women’s Rugby Association’s co-founder, detailed the abuse that Wayne has received on Instagram and via an email address that had been set up for professional enquiries.
The referee, who, in our opinion, had a fine game, was subjected to some social media jesting, but others crossed the line. We’ve chosen not to publish them because of their explicit content.
Writing on social media afterwards, Polly said: “What a vile atmosphere at the Stade de France. It’s just a game k***heads.”
On Sunday in what appeared to be a farewell post to the tournament, Barnes also wrote: “See ya later Rugby World Cup. Won’t miss you, or the death threats.”
Barnes is expected to retire from refereeing following the showpiece final, and, in our opinion, he definitely goes out on a high.”
In 2019, Barnes hinted at the possibility of retiring after the World Cup in Japan to spend more quality time with his family and focus on his other commitments.
However, he ultimately decided not hand over his ‘rusty whistle’ and instead extended his career for an additional four years.
This decision has proved wise, as the 44-year-old now stands on the brink of concluding his career with the remarkable opportunity to officiate the sport’s grandest event.
Day jobs of the 2023 Rugby World Cup referee’s:
#1. Ben O’Keeffe
Nationality: New Zealand
Occupation: Eye Doctor
One of New Zealand’s six full-time referees, O’Keeffe is also a qualified doctor specialising in ophthalmology, which deals with eye health and disease.
Ben O’Keeffe facts:
O’Keeffe became an amateur referee for the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) in 2013 having started officiating in 2008 at the age of 19
He grew up in Blenheim, New Zealand and attended Marlborough Boys’ College where he was head boy in 2006.
O’Keeffe’s brother, Michael O’Keeffe, represented New Zealand at the 2012 London Olympics in football
Ben O’Keeffe toughest player to referee: Ma’a Nonu
O’Keeffe said: “I think like Ma’a Nonu, yeah he was pretty tough. I’ve noticed over the last few years that players are just a lot bigger, a lot faster and a lot stronger.
“I trained with the Highlanders pre-season one year and you get a real appreciation of how big, fit and hard they hit. That just remind me why I just I love refereeing – so I don’t have to take those big hits.”