English rugby referee Tom Foley has decided to step away from international match officiating for the foreseeable future, citing online abuse as a major reason on Monday.
Foley was the Television Match Official at this year's Rugby World Cup final in France when South Africa defeated New Zealand 12-11, and has previously reported receiving death threats to himself and his family in the wake of that game.
"Having reached the pinnacle in officiating at the Rugby World Cup Final, now feels the right time to take a break from the international game," Foley said in a statement.
"Over the course of 13 years, I have been fortunate to officiate alongside many dedicated professionals and be involved in some of the greatest games in international rugby.
"However, the pressure and scrutiny I came under after the Rugby World Cup Final, along with a torrent of criticism and abuse online, has helped to reaffirm that this is the right decision for me at this point in my life."
Wayne Barnes, who refereed the final in October, retired from officiating just days after the game in Paris and also spoke of the abuse he and his family suffered following the match.
Foley, who began refereeing in 2010 and has officiated in 48 tests since his first international game in 2016, was involved at eight games in this year's Rugby World Cup.
"While it's a privilege to be at the heart of some of the sport's most iconic moments, the increasing levels of vitriol, when the demands and expectation are so high, have led me to this moment," Foley added in his statement.