'Told I was going to die': Springboks halfback opens up about death threats

Cobus Reinach. Photo: Getty Images
Cobus Reinach. Photo: Getty Images
South Africa halfback Cobus Reinach has opened up on the extent of abuse he received at the Rugby World Cup in France including death threats allegedly sent by rival supporters.

Reinach starred in South Africa’s quarter-final win over hosts France, after which he defended Kiwi referee Ben O’Keeffe.

Kiwi referee Ben O’Keeffe. Photo: Getty Images
Kiwi referee Ben O’Keeffe. Photo: Getty Images
In an interview with L’Equipe, the World Cup winner said it was his defence of O’Keeffe which sparked the abuse leading to an increase in security for the rest of the tournament.

“I said after the match that the referee had been good under pressure, which led to me receiving many messages,” Reinach, who now plays for French side Montpellier, told L’Equipe. “The first message concerned me directly, telling me not to come back to Montpellier, otherwise I would be killed.

“Then it started to concern my family. People, behind their keyboards, who can attack your family. They are not the ones making decisions on the field or playing against your team, so clearly, this crosses the line.”

Reinach made the point of saying he also received support from French fans in the wake of the incident.

“I don’t want to dwell on it because the French have been incredible, but this online harassment, which is from a minority, must stay out of this game,” he said. “These people who told me not to come back to Montpellier, that I was going to die, that I was a cheat.”

Last month, the UK’s Daily Telegraph revealed that referee Wayne Barnes and his wife, Polly, had been subjected to online abuse and death threats following the World Cup final, which followed a similar backlash to his officiating in last year’s test between the Springboks and France.

After watching the final in the Stade de France along with their two children, Polly Barnes posted on Instagram, “What a vile atmosphere at the Stade de France. It’s just a game k***heads”, before adding: “See ya later Rugby World Cup. Won’t miss you, or the death threats.”


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