After South Africa’s victory over France last weekend, Cobus Reinach was the victim of online harassment, according to Rassie Erasmus, the country’s rugby director.
The playmaker started at scrum-half as the Springboks beat the hosts to advance to the Rugby World Cup semi-finals, where they will play England on Saturday.
Reinach played a key role in the team’s narrow 29-28 victory by assisting with the first two tries.
Prior to telling his followers that Reinach had received death threats, Erasmus utilized X, then known as Twitter, to deny a remark that had been wrongly attributed to him.
The message, which was addressed to the 33-year-old Montpellier player for the Top 14 squad, read, “Dirty son of a b**** I hope that when you return to Montpellier you get murdered by French people on the ground gang of thieves, easy to win a title when you’re cheating.”
Cobus Reinach was the focus of these threats, which is unfortunate, Erasmus wrote in response. When those remarks about their son are made, a mother and father find it insulting and heartbreaking! But instead of complaining, we’ll press on.
Social media users were shocked when the French supporter appeared to target Reinach’s youngster in another post posted to the scrum-half.
“Sorry about that, but the vast majority of French fans and people in general DO NOT APPROVED of this. Thomas Corbet, a French journalist, wrote on X, “And by not ok I mean horrible, disgraceful, and just disgusting.
Rian Oberholzer, interim chief executive of South Africa Rugby, rebuked the fan’s behavior and stressed that they are looking to pursue it further.
“We were made aware of it (the death threat) on Thursday afternoon, and that is something we’re going to take up,” Oberholzer told News24.
“It is regrettable that remarks like those are being made. We at SA Rugby can’t really do much about French fans calling for player executions.
Although it is terrible when it occurs, there isn’t much we can do about it physically.
A troubling pattern
These kinds of problems, sadly, are popping up more and more frequently in the social media age.
Referee Wayne Barnes and his family were the targets of hateful threats from South African supporters in November of last year after the Springboks were defeated by France.
“Criticism on social media quickly becomes abuse,” Barnes told The Good, The Bad and The Rugby podcast. “That is the world we live in. That is social media. But I make the decision to be a referee, make the decision to be on social media. Polly, my wife, doesn’t make the decision to be a referee.
“On the Saturday night, there started to be some direct abuse at Polly. Then, the following two or three days, there was direct abuse to Polly, threats of sexual violence and threats against the kids.
“That takes it to a different level. When you’ve done 100 games, you think you can prepare for most things. You can’t prepare for that.
“I don’t mind people criticising my performance and, if they want to abuse me directly, that’s their choice. But that wasn’t just a line that was crossed.
“You couldn’t even see the line, it had gone that far. It affects you and it affects your family.”