England coach Stuart Lancaster condemns homophobic abuse against referee Nigel Owens

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England Coach Stuart Lancaster has said applauded the Rugby Football Union for taking a stance against reports of homophobic abuse against referee Nigel Owens.

Nigel Owens, who was the first openly gay man to referee rugby at international level,reportedly had abuse shouted at him after some of his decisions on the pitch during the game between England and the New Zealand All Blacks.

Yesterday, the RFU said it will take the allegations “seriously” and “deal with it.”

Stuart Lancaster today said: “I’m aware there’s an investigation going on and rightly so. We applaud the stance the RFU are taking and the investigation.

“We’ve worked hard in rugby to get the core values of the sport ingrained in the team and in rugby in general, so there is no place for this whatsoever.

“Certainly having met Nigel on Friday we wanted him to have an enjoyable experience coming to England and it’s a shame if he feels that memory has been tarnished by the allegation.

“We have got to understand the pressures that people are under and be supportive. That is all we want to achieve with referees.”

Yesterday, Owens said: “As a referee it’s not nice to have stuff like this getting back to me and if I was telling you it doesn’t get me down or doesn’t affect me I’d be lying because it does.”

In 2010, Owens announced his support for a Samaritans campaign to prevent male suicides.

Owens has documented his own struggle with depression and said he tried to kill himself at the age of 26.