Rugby

Well-known players, teams and rugby personalities united behind a young rugby player after becoming the victim of online bullying.

LATEST: Sad twist to rugby story that went viral

Mark Pugsley, the father of a young rugby player who received widespread support this week, has been implicated in racist posts.

Rugby

Well-known players, teams and rugby personalities united behind a young rugby player after becoming the victim of online bullying.

In what has been one of the most inspirational rugby-related stories for some time, there was a massive outpouring of support for a young rugby player who was the victim of online bullying based on his physical appearance.

In a heartfelt social media message, the boy’s father, Mark Pugsley, shared a Facebook post that showed his son playing for an Under-12 rugby team, but sadly explained that he had been forced to remove the post as a result of hurtful online comments about the young boy.

It drew a remarkable reaction from around the rugby world, with encouraging messages pouring in from high-profile rugby personalities – including the Boks’ Siya Kolisi, Beast Mtawarira, Ox Nche and even director of rugby Rassie Erasmus among hundreds of others.

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However, the story has taken a sad turn for the worse after old posts from Mark Pugsley emerged, which have implicated him in alleged racist posts. He has since deleted his Twitter account.

In the initial post, Pugsley had explained why he had to remove a photo take of his son.

“Had to remove a post from Facebook as an idiot commented saying my boy is to “big” to play under 12s and isn’t healthy,” Mark Pugsley wrote. “If only people knew how hard he works to get fitter and how low his confidence has been. Don’t worry Alfie I’ll always be your biggest fan.”

Despite the horrible twist to the story, the outpouring of support for Alfie has been remarkable, with Bok captain Siya Kolisi sending a heartfel video message on Wednesday.

Legendary former Springbok prop and World Cup winner Beast Mtawarira was one of the first to add his voice to countless message of support.

“Big fella you have my support. I walked this road too once upon a time when people silently bullied me about my size and questioned whether I was the correct age for my age group. Keep your head high and never let the haters get to you. The game of rugby is for all!”

Popular current Bok prop, Ox Nche, who has taken over from Mtawarira in the No 1 jersey, also joined in with a special message of his own.

Legendary former Test referee Nigel Owens also responded to say he’d happily referee one of the youngsters rugby matches.

“Alfie mate, you keep enjoying the rugby. Always try your best, but always enjoy it. You’re doing well, keep going. I’ll come along to ref one of your games one day and will look forward to it. Keep smiling my friend.”

Former All Blacks legend Jerome Kaino echoed such sentiments of support.

“Hey Alfie, you keep having loads of fun & working hard mate, our beautiful game is for ALL genders, people from ALL walks of life & also ALL shapes & sizes, keep that smile on your face brother & keep up the awesome work.”

Former Springbok Uzair Cassiem also shared a message:

“Keep up the good work Alfie! Enjoy your rugby and know that, no matter what, there is a massive group of people behind you ready to support you! You are a superstar.”

Wales and British & Irish Lions star Liam Williams also came out in support: “Alfie, keen working kid! As long as you’re enjoying it, that’s all that matters.”

England international Alex Corbisiero posted a picture of when he was younger along with a message of support: “Hi mark, please show this to Alfie, I heard very similar things when I was younger, Alfie keep working hard, you will have the last laugh and I promise this experience will make you a better person later in your life. Keep smiling.”

Others who responded included the All Blacks sevens team and legendary Fiji star Nemani Nadolo among many others.

“Brother you keep working hard and keep being you. I’ve heard it all in my time playing rugby. You got a fan here my man,” Nadolo commented.

You can see other responses from the rugby community below:

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