The Rugby Football Union has issued two-year Twickenham bans to two men accused of directing homophobic abuse at referee Nigel Owens, the governing body has announced.
The RFU launched an investigation into allegations of offensive language used against Owens, who is gay, made by a spectator who attended the 24-21 defeat by New Zealand in the opening QBE International earlier this month.
The two supporters are banned from attending all matches at Twickenham for two years and will also pay £1,000 each to a charity of Owens’ choice.
The matter was first brought to light when a spectator witnessed the abuse from a group of men he estimated to be their mid-30s and subsequently wrote a letter to a national newspaper outlining what he had heard.
“While instances of this nature are exceptionally rare, the RFU takes rugby’s values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship very seriously, and is determined to uphold them,” RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie said.
“We are all guardians of these aspects of the game, on and off the pitch, and it is these values which make the sport special.”
The RFU has pledged to put messaging in the programme, in every ticket pack, on mid-tier LED boards and big screens throughout match day to reinforce the behaviour it expects of supporters.