With rugby’s judicial process in the firing line in England this week, veteran referee Wayne Barnes has curiously decided to re-emerge on Twitter.
The five-game ban handed to England captain Owen Farrell for his dangerous, red-carded tackle last weekend, as well as three-game bans for Siale Piutau and Andrew Kitchener, have left some high-profile figures in the game demanding changes to the judiciary system.
While referees have not been criticised per se, social media is at times no place for an official when unhappy fans are hungry for answers. Given the long-established custom of blaming referees following a loss, the Stygian depths of the comments section on most websites are loaded with bitter complaints.
Other referees in the game such as Nigel Owens are also on social media and while it remains largely civil in the rugby community, this is still an odd week for Barnes to return given the bans that have been handed out.
Barnes was actually in charge of the game between Worcester Warriors and Bristol Bears last Friday, brandishing the red card to Kitchener and a yellow to Piutau in the final minute of the match following a skirmish that Bristol boss Pat Lam has been vocal about.
Right then, this will be fun……… https://t.co/b0exsSq8X4
— Joe Marler (@JoeMarler) September 8, 2020
You penalised me against Bath in 2005 for being offside at a ruck – bit surprised you’ve got the gall to be back on here like nothing ever happened and you’re yet to admit you were wrong? #nobhead
— Ben Kay (@BenKay5) September 8, 2020
I never thought I’d see the day. Welcome back my friend
— Nigel Owens MBE (@Nigelrefowens) September 8, 2020
Let the debates begin ?
— Mike Friday (@MikeFriday09) September 9, 2020
You ended my Scotland Career, Wayne.
— Jim Hamilton (@jimhamilton4) September 8, 2020
Barnes is undeniably one of the world’s leading referees and his insight will be greatly appreciated, much in the same way Owens’ is on Twitter as well. Barnes’ handling of Bath’s recent contest with Wasps was widely commended, particularly given the string of front row injuries Wasps endured.
It would be remiss of fans to fail to highlight some of the standout moments throughout Barnes’ career. Unfortunately for a referee, many of the things they are remembered are often errors, namely a certain forward pass that was missed by Barnes in New Zealand’s quarter-final loss to France at the 2007 World Cup. That was unlikely to slip under the radar.
“My contract is up with the RFU at the end of the season… but I’m fit as I have ever been – that’s what my scores tell…
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