TMO Tom Foley, who officiated the World Cup final, has decided to take a break from his duties as a Test match official due to receiving abuse and threats.
Tom Foley, the referee from England, has chosen to take a break from officiating in Test rugby for the foreseeable future. He cited pressure, scrutiny, and online abuse that he received following the Rugby World Cup final as the reasons for his decision.
Foley served as the television match official during South Africa’s 12-11 victory over New Zealand, during which All Blacks captain Sam Cane was ejected. The 38-year-old referee recently revealed that he and his family have received death threats since the World Cup, leading him to inform his children’s school for their safety.
Last month, Wayne Barnes, the referee for the October final, declared his retirement due to the online harassment he received. His family members were also subjected to the abuse.
Foley has made the decision following England captain Owen Farrell’s choice to step away from international rugby. Farrell will not be participating in the upcoming Six Nations tournament in order to focus on his and his family’s mental wellbeing.
“I received a lot of pressure and close inspection following the Rugby World Cup final, as well as a flood of negative comments and harassment online. This has only strengthened my belief that stepping away from the sport at this time is the best decision for me,” stated Foley in a press release from the Rugby Football Union.
I am grateful to have been a part of many significant events in sports, but the rising hostility, caused by the intense pressure and high standards, has brought me to this point.
“After achieving the highest level of officiating at the Rugby World Cup final, it seems like the appropriate moment to step away from the international game.”
In the past 13 years, I have had the privilege of working with numerous committed individuals and participating in some of the most memorable matches in global rugby.
I am grateful for my family’s support throughout my career as an international match official. It often required me to be away from home for long periods, but now I am looking forward to spending more time with my young children at home. Without their support, none of my achievements would have been possible.
Foley, with experience in 48 Tests, four Champions Cup finals, and over 200 Premiership games, will continue to serve as a referee in English rugby’s domestic league.
Bill Sweeney, the CEO of the RFU, stated that the mistreatment of Tom and other officials involved in the Rugby World Cup final is completely unacceptable. No one should be subjected to such behavior while carrying out their duties in a sport they are dedicated to and passionate about.
“We are committed to preventing any mistreatment towards match officials and players and encourage all members of our sport to reflect on their responsibility in promoting the values of rugby.”
World Rugby stated that they will persist in their efforts to safeguard and assist international referees and their loved ones. A representative from World Rugby commended Tom for his courage in speaking out against the concerning and unacceptable increase of online hate in both society and sports.
George North has signed a contract for two years with Provence, a second-division team in France. The 31-year-old centre from Ospreys will transfer to the southern region of France in the summer of next year, joining his new teammates, including Wales’ prop Tomas Francis. Provence currently holds the second spot in their league and sees North’s addition as a significant acquisition for their goal of reaching the Top 14.
“My family and I are very excited to join Provence Rugby, starting next season,” North told the club’s official website. “I am really looking forward to meeting everyone and starting an incredible adventure in Provence.”
North has achieved 119 appearances, 47 successful tries, and participated in four World Cups for Wales. He will continue to be an option for the Wales head coach, Warren Gatland, following his move to Provence.