We do love a good twitter argument but sometimes the indignation just goes too far. This tweet from journalist Richard Moore has started a rather ridiculous debate.
Wayne Barnes, who Ireland fans may remember from such films as, 'How the fuck can you give the Welsh a penalty for that', has admitted that he'd like to see England win the World Cup. Shock horror and all that.
Some were quick to criticise Barnes.
@richardmoore73 @BSBAwards Huge problem. Will referee their potential opponents. Good ref but needs to step down or be stupid down.
— Julien Allen (@Late2PartyArk) June 3, 2015
@richardmoore73 to be fair he's supporting English club sides with years. Ask any irish province. — Derek Troy (@flammecast) June 3, 2015
@flammecast @richardmoore73 took the words right out of my mouth! Supports England during 6 nations also!
— Ian Lahart PhD (@IMLahart) June 3, 2015
@richardmoore73 sounds legit — Gareth Phillips (@DarwinsJRT) June 3, 2015
However, plenty were also keen to defend the English referee.
@richardmoore73 You obviously don't understand the mentality of a referee.
— Stephen Green (@sjgreen) June 3, 2015
@richardmoore73 @williamp51 he won't be refereeing England so what's the issue? It's why international refs are from neutral countries.
— Mark Gray (@saintlymark) June 3, 2015
@richardmoore73 Said the same thing on Rugby Tonight. He's a rugby fan first & won't be ref'ing England games
— Gareth Reynolds (@garethreynolds) June 3, 2015
@richardmoore73 As will Nigel Owens ( prob RWC final ref) with Wales. But their professional integrity will ensure there is no conflict.
— Paul Musgrave (@Muzzdobetter) June 4, 2015
This is all a bit unnecessary. The simple nature of rugby refereeing means that this is certain to happen all the time. Referees are selected from nations who play against other nations. It's hardly surprising that Barnes would be an England fan. He's not going to shut down his allegiances as soon as he become a referee, no more so than we'd expect an Irish referee to.
You expect referees to be professional and, as much as you may not be a fan of Barnes, him stating that he supports England does nothing to get in the way of his ability to be professional.