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A World Cup final referee has slammed 'dangerous' social media use

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images)

Test rugby referee Joy Neville has attacked people who use social media as a weapon to have a go at match officials. The issue became a hot topic at the recent women’s World Cup in New Zealand and the situation was further exacerbated by the way Rassie Erasmus used his Twitter account in recent weeks.

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World Rugby eventually took punitive action against the South African director of rugby, banning him from the stadium for his team’s recent wins over Italy and England after they had taken umbrage with the tone of his sarcastic posts.

Irish referee Neville has now waded into the debate in an interview in the latest edition of Rugby World magazine. She was an assistant referee for the bronze medal match at the recent women’s World Cup five years after she refereed the 2017 final in Belfast between England and the Black Ferns, and she was more recently on TMO duty for last Saturday’s Autumn Nations Series men’s game between Wales and Australia in Cardiff.

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“I don’t like social media,” said Neville, who was abused on those platforms after her work as a TMO in the March 2021 England versus France men’s Guinness Six Nations match. “It’s used as a weapon by people and I don’t like the lack of accountability. I’m nearly 40, I have a great support structure at home but I do worry about young people who don’t have that life experience. I do really think social media is dangerous.

“We put a lot of pressure on ourselves as a group, we know we are there to create a platform for teams to play so it’s important for us to be physically and mentally in the best shape. So pressure comes internally and externally. You have to have mental strength to filter negative stuff.”

A Rugby World magazine editorial also debated the criticisms of match officials. In an article titled Toxic discourse around officiating must stop, it wrote: “There is so much grey in the lawbook that decisions will always be debated, but the constant commentary around refereeing has become toxic and may put people off taking up the whistle.

“Referees are human beings and will never give a perfect performance. So let’s stop the toxic discourse around officiating. Or we may soon have a shortage of officials, without whom there are no matches.”

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Shaylen 15 hours ago
Brumbies the best team in Australia but still nothing to show for it

The Brumbies have been the strongest side in Australia for a long time and that was down to their forwards and set piece which has always been good and has always been able to dominate their Australian counterparts. This year the lack of maul tries and also the lack of a stable scrum has been a real problem which was also something Nick alluded to in his article this week about the creaking brumbies tight five. Home advantage is key as you say and the Brumbies must find a way to score more bonus points. If the Brumbies are really serious about winning a title they need to do what Kiwi sides at the top do. They need to smash every Aus side with a bonus point at home while claiming losing bonus points in every game they lose and denying their rivals bonus points. In their 3 losses in NZ this year they were smashed. They only scored 60 tries which is middle of the road, their scrum came in at 73% which was one of the worst in the comp, tackle success at just 83% which was right at the bottom and in terms of metres, clean breaks, carries, offloads and rucks built they were in the middle plus they had the most yellows. They basically were just not dominant enough wile they can improve their discipline. They excelled at kicking and won plenty of lineout ball plus their rucks were secure at 97%. Not sure about turnovers but they weren’t bad there. They just need to be more clinical and give away less and they will give themselves the best chance to win the title.

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