The BBC has hit out at rugby fans who took to social media to abuse reporter Sonja McLaughlan for her coverage of England’s Six Nations defeat by Wales on Saturday.
England were beaten 40-24 at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, all but ending their hopes of retaining their title, and referee Pascal Gauzere came under fire for allowing two controversial Wales tries as the hosts secured the Triple Crown.
McLaughlan interviewed Eddie Jones and Owen Farrell at full-time and asked the pair for their thoughts on Gauzere’s performance as the man in the middle, with both the England head coach and the side’s captain refusing to blame the French official for the result.
Some supporters felt McLaughlan had attempted to goad the pair into criticising Gauzere, and made their opinions clear on social media.
In response, McLaughlan tweeted: “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.”
The BBC, for whom McLaughlan works, have now issued their own response to the abuse aimed at their reporter.
“BBC Sport strongly condemns the online abuse experienced by Sonja McLaughlan after the Wales v England match,” a statement read.
“Sonja has long been a key member of our Six Nations team and she absolutely has our full support.”
England Rugby, meanwhile, tweeted: “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.”
The official Six Nations account wrote in a 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.”
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