Wayne Barnes and his wife, Polly Barnes, have been in the limelight due to social media threats after the Rugby World Cup final.
In October 2023, he got picked as the referee for the 2023 Rugby World Cup final between New Zealand and South Africa. Following the match, his wife reportedly received death threats.
After social media abuse following the Rugby World Cup final, Barnes retired on November 2, 2023, concluding a remarkable career spanning 111 Test matches.
Wayne Barnes and his wife, Polly Barnes, have known each other for most of their lives.
Although they were childhood friends, they only started dating in their mid-20s. Nevertheless, they are married and are doting parents to their two kids.
Wayne Barnes, born on 20 April 1979 in Bream, Gloucestershire, is a retired English international rugby union referee.
Branes started his refereeing journey at age 15 with Gloucester & District Referees. He eventually became the youngest referee appointed to the Panel of National Referees at 21.
As a professional referee since April 2005, Barnes has officiated at various prestigious events, including the Rugby World Cup, Six Nations, and Heineken Cup.
Despite facing criticism during the 2007 Rugby World Cup, he continued to make strides. He officiated the 2010 Heineken Cup Final and reached his 250th Premiership Rugby match in 2022.
Beyond rugby, Barnes, a criminal barrister and partner at Squire Patton Boggs, shares his journey in the autobiography “Throwing the Book,” set for release on November 9, 2023.
Who Is Wayne Barnes Wife, Polly Barnes?
Wayne Barnes married his longtime love, Polly Barnes, and currently lives in their London home. They reportedly tied the knot around the 2000s and have been together ever since.
Polly, too, has had a strong connection to rugby throughout her life, from her initial exposure to the sport to her current role as a co-founder and the director of the Women’s Rugby Association.
Mrs. Barnes was a rugby player who started playing rugby at about eleven. However, she had to give up rugby as she opted to pursue a degree in ballet and contemporary dance.
Polly met Wayne when she was eleven, and her husband was sixteen. Delving further into their relationship, the retired rugby union referee started asking Polly when she was about sixteen.
After continuous effort from Wayne, Polly eventually relented at about 24. Now, the Barnes couple are proud parents of their two young children named Juno and Beau.
Online Threats Against The Family
Wayne Barnes’s last match was one of his most challenging ones. He showed the first red card to New Zealand captain Sam Cane in the Rugby World Cup final 12-11 loss against South Africa.
Following the defeat, New Zealand supporters started directing abusive messages at the 44-year-old referee. Barnes later announced his retirement from refereeing a few days later.
Wayne has spoken about the social media abuse, calling it ‘vile’ and demanding actions against it. In the interview with BBC Sports, he said, “When people make threats against your wife and kids, they should be held to account and punished.”
Barnes added, “Threats of sexual violence, threats of saying we know where you live. It crosses that line.”
Adding to that, Wayne says he uses social media to promote charity work and officiating, showing the challenges of the job and humanizing it.
He stated, “I make that choice, and with that choice comes the ability for people to send messages of hate and violence.”
Following his experience and retirement, Barnes aims to support the upcoming generation of referees facing similar challenges.