World Rugby welcomes the prosecution against a person who sent abusive messages on social media targeting a Rugby World Cup 2023 match official and members of his family.  

The Television Match Official and his wife received threatening and abusive messages via Facebook during the showcase event in France last year.

But thanks to World Rugby’s online abuse programme supporting Emirates Match Officials and their families, the man was able to be identified and located in Australia with the case referred to the Australian authorities to pursue legal action.

The perpetrator was subsequently convicted of one count of use carriage service to menace or harass via online communication. World Rugby has also confirmed that it intends to take steps to bar the individual from purchasing tickets for future World Rugby owned events.

In addition, World Rugby can confirm that further cases are pending across five jurisdictions as a result of the landmark programme.

World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “World Rugby welcomes this landmark outcome. The vile and toxic abuse is an all too common occurrence for many sports men and women and public figures, and we hope that this sends a very strong message to online trolls that such behaviour is totally unacceptable and that the sport and the authorities are prepared to take action.”

Prosecution comes as World Rugby confirms that it has extended its partnership with Signify Group whose Threat Matrix service will now monitor for abusive content targeting all World Rugby appointed men’s and women’s match officials and their families over the next three years. As the sport continues to unite to tackle online abuse, this service includes the men’s and women’s Guinness Six Nations, July and November tests.

Gilpin added: “We are delighted to be extending our relationship with Signify Group to tackle online abuse in our sport. In addition to the support provided to our match officials, the partnership has enabled us to focus on the insights that help us better understand the triggers, tactics and threats and how best to mitigate them.”