England Rugby today performed a U-turn and decided to join football – and other sports – in the social media blackout this weekend.
The RFU were not initially intending to join the social media silence as they were considering a stance of their own in the coming weeks.
But after cricket joined yesterday, rugby has thrown its weight behind the blackout too. Premiership Rugby and all its clubs had committed to the stand yesterday, with England Rugby – and all associated channels, such as Sevens and the Greeme King Championship – joining today.
The blackout runs from 3pm on Friday afternoon until 23:59 on Bank Holiday Monday evening. The aim is to encourage social media companies to take a stronger stance on online abuse, particularly of a racist nature, directed at players.
England Women face France in Lille on Saturday evening, during the blackout, but Sarah Hunter, the Red Roses’ captain, said her players recognised there was more at stake and “abuse cannot be ignored”.
“No professional sportsperson should have to suffer abuse, racism or harassment on social media,” she said.
“We’ve all seen how social media can help bring fans and players closer together but this does not mean abuse should be ignored.
“While we have an important Test match in France on Friday, we understand there are bigger and more important issues and hopefully this is an important statement that online hate will not be tolerated.”