Former Wakefield Trinity Rugby League Coach on Social Media Abuse and Team Relegation

Former Wakefield Trinity Rugby League Coach Speaks Out on Social Media Abuse

In a candid interview on BBC Radio Leeds, former Wakefield Trinity rugby league head coach Mark Applegarth lifted the lid on the difficulties he faced dealing with social media abuse aimed at not only him, but his close family during his time in charge of the club.

Applegarth, who was at the helm of his hometown club in 2023, was ultimately unable to keep Wakefield Trinity in the rugby league Super League, with the team relegated to the Championship for the first time in over two decades. While Applegarth acknowledged that as a head coach, he understood and expected a certain level of scrutiny, he revealed that the threats directed at his wife and family were particularly challenging to deal with.

“There were a few that came back, threatening certain things,” Applegarth said. “I ultimately said to anyone that if anyone wants to come and chat to me, just turn up to the stadium and knock on the coach’s door and I’ll happily take an hour with anyone and tell you where I feel I’ve gone wrong and where we can improve.”

The former rugby league coach emphasized that while he was prepared to face the consequences of his position, his family members “don’t sign up for that” level of abuse. “As a head coach you sign up for that and you understand it, you deal with it. It’s the people that have to deal with those consequences of your action which is signing up for that job. They don’t sign up to read that abuse.”

Applegarth also revealed how he confronted one particularly vocal supporter after Wakefield’s relegation at a match against Leigh last summer. “I remember the Leigh game, there were a fan absolutely yelling abuse at me. He caught my eye out of luck more than anything else so I went over and asked what he wanted to say to me. He just started crying and said he wasn’t angry at me, it was the situation.”

The challenges faced by rugby league coaches and players when it comes to social media abuse and fan backlash highlight the need for greater support and understanding within the sport. As the rugby league community continues to evolve, addressing these issues will be crucial for the well-being of those involved and the overall health of the sport.

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