Nigel Owens has declared himself a fan of Twitter, highlighting how supportive it was of George North in midweek after he received his devastating injury news. However, he abhors the online trolls and has used this weekend’s sports-led social media blackout to revisit the abuse Wales full-back Liam Williams suffered in March.
The Welsh player was yellow-carded and missed the closing moments of the March 20 Guinness Six Nations game in Paris, an absence that coincided with France striking at the death to win the match and deny Wayne Pivac’s team the Grand Slam.
Williams suffered the wrath of some online Wales rugby followers in the aftermath, a reaction that Owens has taken issue with in his latest walesonline.co.uk column. “I’m against trolling, full stop,” he stressed.
“I thought some of the posts about Liam Williams on Twitter were unacceptable after he was yellow-carded in Wales’ final match of the Six Nations. The irony was, of course, that he shouldn’t even have been penalised let alone sent to the sin bin. But that’s not the issue here.
“A world of blame, unfairness and spite suddenly descended on Liam. Eventually, of course, a lot of people came to his defence, but it could not have been easy for one of Welsh rugby’s most whole-hearted players to read what was written.
The RugbyPass Network will join the wider rugby community by taking part in a social media blackout from 15.00 GMT on Friday 30 April to 23.59 GMT on Monday 3 May in a show of solidarity against online abuse.
Racism, discrimination and bullying will not be tolerated. pic.twitter.com/oP0Rzp5nNo
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 30, 2021
“There is nothing wrong with commenting fairly on his or anyone else’s performance. Honest opinion within limits is what the best writers dish up in newspapers and on websites every day… but even for us officials, though, some commenters on social media can go too far. That is when the whole thing turns into unsocial media.”
Owens had begun his column singing the praises of social media, highlighting what it can achieve when used in a positive way. He also made reference to Wales midfielder North who saw his dream of a third Lions tour selection dashed by an ACL injury when playing for the Ospreys last weekend.
“I use Twitter regularly and enjoy it a lot. I like the way it can be used to highlight good causes and injustice. I like the way it can give everyone the chance to have a say. I like the way it allows those with high profiles to communicate directly to the public and vice versa.
“It can be supportive, too. George North was getting 100 tweets an hour sent to him on Wednesday after revealing his heartbreaking news that he had damaged knee ligaments and would require surgery, thereby ruling him out of the Lions tour. Almost every one of the messages was wonderfully sympathetic and encouraging. It was heartwarming to see.”
— chris jones (@chrisjonespress) May 1, 2021
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