Ardie Savea of New Zealand and his teammates engaged in a conversation with Referee Wayne Barnes during the Rugby World Cup Final match between New Zealand and South Africa at Stade de France. New Zealand Rugby has expressed their appreciation for Wayne Barnes after the referee’s recent retirement, which came just days after he officiated the Rugby World Cup final.
Wayne Barnes, a 44-year-old referee, presided over his first-ever World Cup final as South Africa narrowly defeated the All Blacks 12-11 at Stade de France. During the match, he had to show a yellow card on four occasions, and All Blacks captain Sam Cane’s card was upgraded to a red card by the video review in the first half.
Following the final, Barnes unfortunately became a target of online abuse, including death threats. This disturbing trend of abuse was observed throughout the World Cup, with England’s Tom Curry and South Africa’s Cobus Reinach also facing similar treatment during the tournament. In his retirement announcement, Barnes expressed his commitment to preventing such treatment from affecting other referees in the future.
Barnes stated, “I will work closely with the International Rugby Match Officials’ association to ensure match officials across the globe not only have a collective voice but also the appropriate support network for them and their families, particularly as online abuse and threats have become far too regular for all of those involved in the game.”
Despite their loss in the final, New Zealand showed great sportsmanship on social media by paying tribute to the veteran referee, who officiated a record-breaking 111 Test matches. They commended Wayne Barnes for his significant contribution to the world of rugby and wished him and his family the best for the future.
New Zealand’s post was accompanied by the hashtag #RespectTheRef, emphasizing the importance of respecting referees, especially in light of recent events.