Wasps defence coach Ian Costello has claimed it is “completely unacceptable” that Jacob Umaga has been forced off social media by abuse aimed the out-half following recent performances. Umaga had a poor game in Wasps’ recent Gallagher Premiership defeat by Harlequins and dropped to the bench for last weekend’s loss to Northampton.
However, he remains a member of the England shadow squad for the Guinness Six Nations and will feature for his club in Sunday’s match at Worcester.
Football in England has seen a number of high profile players targeted for online abuse, along with referee Mike Dean who has received death threats. It has also crept into rugby, with Ireland’s Billy Burns in the eye of a social media storm following a high-profile error in last Sunday’s loss to Wales.
Costello now believes rugby needs to ensure that its players are protected from online abuse, explaining that Umaga has deactivated his Instagram after receiving flak for his recent performances. “What we can do is make sure we support and protect the players and we look at that [abuse] as completely unacceptable and make sure that kind of behaviour isn’t condoned,” said Costello.
“Jacob has to just stay away from that kind of stuff. He is positive, resilient and will bounce back. As a sport, we have to make players are protected from this as much as possible. If I’m honest it is something that shouldn’t be happening but it is happening.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 9, 2021
“As a sport, we have to look into it deeper to see how we can stop it happening. It is up to each individual player how he deals with it. Keeping away from a lot of that attention, whether it is positive or negative, is probably the right way to go.
“More importantly from our point of view, Jacob is hugely respected and valued and supported by everybody here. He is a quality player with a really good temperament. He had a poor game against Harlequins and he will tell you that himself. The way he applied himself last week, the way he trained and helped prepare the team (to face Northampton) was top class.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 3, 2020
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