Leicester boss Steve Borthwick has reacted with disbelief that Tigers prop Ellis Genge received online death threats following last Saturday’s defeat by England to Wales in the Guinness Six Nations championship. An apparent refusal to clap the Wales players as they went off the Principality Stadium pitch was interpreted as a slight and it was followed by some digital hate mail which Genge claimed included “death threats”.
The England forward addressed the issue online, tweeting: “Don’t know why I’m not clapping in that tunnel must be deep in thought, utmost respect for the Welsh…” Accompanied by a video of MMA champion Khabib Nurmagomedov saying “send location”, Genge added: “As for keyboard warriors sending death threats etc.”
Borthwick, who worked with Genge as an England assistant under Eddie Jones before taking over last summer at Leicester, was appalled by the abusive messages directed towards the prop. “I don’t think it has got any place,” he said at his weekly Tigers media briefing.
“Ellis has my full support. I don’t think it [the abuse] has got any place. I don’t know what I can say, I can’t believe or understand how somebody does that kind of thing and why people would do that kind of thing. Unfortunately it seems to be something that is coming into society potentially more and more and I don’t think it is right.
“I know that Ellis is a strong character, an incredibly strong character, and I know that he will continue to go about his work as a rugby player in a professional manner to be a better player. He has got a young family and I’m sure this week he is spending plenty of time with them and enjoying his life.”
What has got into rugby fans this weekend? https://t.co/uqfv6ckFMy
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 28, 2021
Borthwick added that the abuse goes against the ethos of the sport he loves. “I feel very privileged to be involved in this fantastic sport and everyone on his call feels passionate about rugby, about the ethos and the way people behave.
“It’s a sport that is incredibly confrontational, it’s incredibly competitive, it is fiercely aggressive and at the same time, there is a respect, a camaraderie about it. The most bitter rivals can also be the best of friends off the field.
“Right now at the end of games, you watch the players and they are not allowed to embrace as they normally do and spend time chatting like they normally do because of the way of the world right now [the pandemic] but you see them go at each other for 80 minutes and then be laughing with each other afterwards.
“It’s one of the great parts of our game and it’s important that we conduct ourselves in the right manner, respect the refereeing, respect the opposition, respect the clubs and the teams we all represent. So that kind of (abusive online) behaviour hasn’t got any place, I don’t understand it.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 2, 2021
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