• World Rugby is partnering with Signify Group to protect its online community and take action against hate speech and abuse
  • Core wellbeing service will operate across all match officials and teams at Rugby World Cup 2023 
  • World Rugby sending a clear zero-tolerance statement that online abuse will be monitored and action taken where necessary
  • Wellbeing of participants a priority for World Rugby and its national unions

World Rugby has today announced that it will implement transformative measures to protect all match day officials and team squad players from online abuse during Rugby World Cup France 2023.

The move underpins World Rugby's wider commitment to promote and protect the sport’s values and Rugby World Cup 2023’s mantra as the sport’s greatest celebration of togetherness, driving positive change.

World Rugby is partnering with data science company Signify Group who will use its AI-driven Threat Matrix service to put an online protective shield around all tournament match officials, players and coaches. The service will include:

  • Proactive real-time monitoring from open-source data on key platforms including X [formerly Twitter] and Instagram across the tournament
  • Coverage in over 30 languages including images and emojis
  • Daily reporting of abusive content and accounts to platforms to ensure appropriate action is taken
  • Expedite abusive content take-down/sanctioning of account holders - where platform community guidelines are evidenced to have been broken
  • Provide evidence to national associations to ban individuals from domestic and international rugby events 
  • Most egregious cases have the potential to be reported to relevant law enforcement agencies and an ability to unmask the worst abusers who hide behind ‘fake’ accounts.

World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “Rugby is a sport for everyone and we take our responsibility very seriously to make the sport as inclusive, accessible and relevant as possible. This includes sending a strong message that online hate simply will not be tolerated, tackling abuse and harmful content with meaningful action."

World Rugby Chief Communications Officer Dominic Rumbles added: “Doing everything we can to set a good example and protect players and match officials is important to World Rugby and our unions, and extending that welfare to the arena of social media is both logical and timely.

"Abuse, on or off the field, has no place in our game and today's announcement shows just how focused we are in tackling online hate aimed at the rugby family – working in partnership with proven experts Signify. This development also reflects our wider tournament goals to drive positive change and celebrate togetherness and unity; all part of a wider journey that World Rugby is very much focused on delivering.”

Jonathan Hirshler, CEO of Signify Group, said: “We are delighted to be working with World Rugby to help create a safer online space to ensure officials and players can be 100 per cent focused on their on-field responsibilities, and not be distracted and potentially harmed by vile online abuse. More and more sporting bodies are starting to take this issue seriously and it is great to be working with World Rugby where welfare is so core to its philosophy, in a sport built on respect, to drive positive change.”

About Signify Group:

Founded in 2017, Signify is an ethical data science and artificial intelligence company that uses open-source data to better understand what fans, consumers and the wider public really care about. Its work spans the business of sport, the private sector, and NGOs, providing insights that help organisations to communicate more effectively with those who matter most to them. Threat Matrix, which utilises AI and open source forensic investigation techniques, was launched in 2020 to protect individuals from online abuse. The service has grown and diversified, gaining significant traction in the sports sector. It is used by clubs, leagues, players unions, federations, and global sports event organisers to protect athletes and other stakeholders, as well as being used in investigations and intelligence support. www.signify.ai