Wayne Barnes has spoken for the first time on the abuse he received after France vs South Africa in November, and also discussed the controversial post-match tweet barrage from Rassie Erasmus.
On The Good, The Bad & The Rugby podcast, Barnes detailed the shocking abuse that was sent to his wife Polly, and the threats to his wife and children.
“Criticism on social media quickly becomes abuse,” Barnes said. “That is the world we live in. That is social media. But I make the decision to be a referee, make the decision to be on social media. Polly, my wife, doesn’t make the decision to be a referee.
On the Saturday night, there started to be some direct abuse at Polly. Then, the following two or three days, there was direct abuse to Polly, threats of sexual violence and threats against the kids.
“That takes it to a different level. When you’ve done 100 games, you think you can prepare for most things. You can’t prepare for that. It’s been a s----- couple of weeks.
Wayne Barnes Discusses Abuse And Rassie Erasmus Tweets
Both the 🇫🇷 and 🇿🇦 9’s under immense pressure !! We just have to get that on side right!!Sorry 🇿🇦💔 pic.twitter.com/srzoaBjm89
— Rassie Erasmus (@RassieRugby) November 13, 2022
Following the France - South Africa clash, South Africa's DOR, Rassie Erasmus, published a number of sarcastic tweets criticising the officiating from the match.
Asked whether this sparked some of the abuse, Barnes could not give a definitive answer, but suggested that it could inspire others to target officials on social media.
“I don’t know the answer to that. What I would say is that if people see people in positions who are meant to uphold the values of our game openly criticising referees then it allows others to say, ‘People in positions of power can criticise, why can’t I?’”