BBC and RFU 'strongly condemn' online abuse sent to Sonja McLaughlan

Gerard Meagher
·2 min read

The BBC and the Rugby Football Union have strongly condemned the online abuse suffered by the reporter Sonja McLaughlan following her pitchside interviews after Wales’s Six Nations victory over England on Saturday.

McLaughlan’s questioning of the England captain Owen Farrell and the head coach Eddie Jones – as well as their opposite numbers, Alun Wyn Jones and Wayne Pivac – shortly after full-time was followed by a series of abusive insults on social media.

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On Saturday evening, McLaughlan, an experienced and well-respected reporter for the BBC, revealed she had been left in tears by the abuse. She posted on Twitter: “Toxic, embarrassing, disgraceful, appalling. Just some of the feedback I’ve had. Thanks for using @ sign so it’s all hit home … Now imagine getting inundated with abuse for doing your job. In my car crying. Hope you’re happy.”

On Sunday, the BBC, the RFU and the Six Nations all offered messages of support, denouncing the abuse McLaughlan had been subjected to.

“BBC Sport strongly condemns the online abuse experienced by Sonja McLaughlan after the Wales v England match,” read a statement from the broadcaster. “Sonja has long been a key member of our Six Nations team and she absolutely has our full support.”

Much of the abuse was in relation to lines of questioning over Wales’s first two tries, which were highly contentious decisions and the main talking points of the match. In a reply to McLaughlan’s initial tweet, the RFU said: “Sonja, we are really sorry to hear this and hope you are OK. Abuse for doing your job is not OK and we stand with you. We will see you for the next one. Hold your head high and know you have our support.

“Rugby’s core values are Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship. Whether we are fans, players, coaches, referees, volunteers or in the media we are all part of the rugby community. We should all aim to hold ourselves to these values of our great game.”

The Six Nations added in a Twitter post: “Sonja, we join with the rest of the rugby community to say that this is not OK. Respect is a value of rugby we hold in the highest regard. Abuse of public figures or members of the media on social media or anywhere else is not acceptable.”