Home SPORTS Owen Farrell decision a ‘wake-up call,’ says Wales coach Gatland

Owen Farrell decision a ‘wake-up call,’ says Wales coach Gatland

Warren Gatland coached Owen Farrell on three British and Irish Lions tours in 2013, 2017 and 2021

Wales coach Warren Gatland believes Owen Farrell’s decision to step away from international rugby should be a “wake-up call for all of us”.

Gatland has also revealed the abuse suffered by himself and his family.

“In many ways Owen’s decision represents a watershed moment for the game,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

“It is a sad day for rugby and a sad day for sport to see someone of Owen’s standing in the game have to make the decision to walk away from the international stage just to protect his family.

“But, ironically in making his decision, it might be the best thing for the game in that it will highlight some of the terrible things that are happening in rugby, particularly on the social media front.

“Given what Owen has achieved in the game, he probably doesn’t realise, but I think it will have a positive impact and make people sit up and make a stand.”

Gatland, 60, is in his second spell in charge of Wales and has also coached Ireland and the British and Irish Lions.

The New Zealander said in his Daily Telegraph column (external paywall site)external-link he had also received “sinister” messages that had made him wonder whether “maybe it was time to walk away”.

“I am largely protected from the abuse because I am not on social media, but my family are, and they see things and it can seep through,” he said.

“And, for a few years now I have been targeted by a troll who managed to get hold of my mobile phone number and has been sending me smart, snidey comments.”

In the column Gatland said the messages kept coming even after he tracked down the identity of the sender and replied to one of them earlier this year, letting the man know he was aware of who he was and who he worked for.

He also revealed abuse his son, a professional player in Super Rugby, had suffered on social media.

“I can still vividly remember a comment that I read after my son Bryn had just missed a long-range kick at goal from the sideline when he had come on for the Auckland Blues. It said something like: ‘I couldn’t care if Bryn Gatland didn’t wake up tomorrow morning’.

“I am old enough and have been long enough in this game to shrug off most barbs, but as a father that one was hard to take.”

Gatland said he was raising the issue because the abuse is “unacceptable” and hopes others within the sport can stand up to the “trolls”.

“Ultimately the rugby community cares about people and I think it is time for the vast majority of us who are disgusted about what is happening to stand up for each other a bit more, or if you see something online that is out of order, shoot it down,” he said.

“It is time for the silent majority to become the loud majority and call out these people.”

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