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TMO Joy Neville the latest target of online abuse

By Josh Raisey
Maro Itoje scores Englands match winning try /PA

Referee Joy Neville has been the victim of a barrage of online abuse after the most recent round of Guinness Six Nations action.


Neville was serving as the television match official in England’s win over France at Twickenham on Saturday. She played a major role in the outcome of the match by overturning referee Andrew Brace’s no try decision in the final minutes of the match and awarding Maro Itoje a try. This is a decision that many people have viewed as the right call.

However, she has been subjected to sexist abuse online, which is becoming all too frequent in rugby.
This is a disheartening repeat of the autumn, where England’s encounter with France in the Autumn Nations Cup led to more online abuse after an extra-time finish. Brace was also the referee on that occasion, and faced a wave of invective from French fans following his performance.

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JP Doyle reacts to referee being lifted up in the French second division | RugbyPass Offload

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JP Doyle reacts to referee being lifted up in the French second division | RugbyPass Offload

The former Ireland international Neville was actually praised at the time for overturning the decision in such a pressurised moment in the match, and has since received plenty of backing over it. The easy option was to go with the on field decision, but a call as close as that is bound to create controversy either way. This Six Nations has been steeped in controversial calls by officials and that is expected; abuse of this nature is not.

“Brilliant decision from Joy Neville,” said Ronan O’Gara on Virgin Media. “Courageous decision to overrule the referee.”

Further, with more scrutiny over the subsequent days, more people are siding with the TMO’s choice. But there is an ugly minority that opt to abuse the officials online in the wake of a loss.


Regardless of whether it was a try or not, nothing justifies the response seen on Twitter, and rugby is not alone in this battle against online trolling.

The 23-20 loss to England ended France’s hopes of a Grand Slam this year, although their Championship hopes are still alive, meaning these responses are highly charged and full of emotion, not that that is an excuse.


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Shaylen 2 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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Jon 8 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Sopoaga is going to be more than good enough to look up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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