Two people have received a ban and fines from attending Twickenham following an investigation from the RFU into recent homophobic abuse directed at referee Nigel Owens. Owens said recently that he feels homophobia could be creeping into rugby.
The allegations were made by a fan attending the recent England vs New Zealand match at Twickenham. He said that he heard some awful abuse being hurled in the direction of the openly gay Welsh referee. He reported it a few days later, which led to the investigation by the RFU.
There is a second investigation still ongoing, but two people have been banned for two years from attending Twickenham, as well as fined £1000 each, that will go to a charity of Owens’ choice.
“While instances of this nature are exceptionally rare, the RFU takes rugby’s values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship very seriously, and is determined to uphold the,” said RFU CEO Ian Ritchie.
“We are all guardians of these aspects of the game, on and off the pitch, and it is these values which make the sport special.”
The RFU will continue to underline what is expected of supporters. At international matches the RFU will put messaging in the programme, in every ticket pack, on mid-tier LED boards and big screens throughout match day.
This season a new confidential text service (Text HELP to 60886) is available to report any anti-social or discriminatory behaviour at the stadium. There are 850 stewards on hand to help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all fans.
Owens spoke to BBC Sport recently and said that the issue is worrying, and it’s unacceptable that this type of abuse is quite possibly creeping into the game. He also said that he feels a responsibility to speak out against homophobia in rugby.