Rugby League world cup match official Matt Cecchin is still on the end of numerous death threats from angry Tongan fans after their semi-final defeat to England.

Trailing 20-18 in Auckland with only seconds to play, Andrew Fifita charged towards the try-line for the possible four-pointer that would send Tonga through to the final.

However, England back-rower Elliot Whitehead made a play at Fifita’s ball-carrying arm and the ball subsequently came loose, before Tonga forward regathered and grounded the ball on the try-line.

Despite claims from Fifita to go to the video referee, Cecchin quickly ruled a knock-on and blew for full-time, a decision that has since caused outrage amongst Tongan supporters.

The days following the final saw Tongan fans march the streets of Auckland in protest against the decision and Cecchin was hurled abuse across a number of social media platforms.

Fifita calls for abuse to stop

Cecchin, who is an experienced NRL referee, has since had to change his name online because of the continued death threats and the man who was denied the possible try has called for the abuse to stop.

Speaking on his Instagram account, Andrew Fifita said: "Today in New Zealand I’m still reading these types of Articles," Fifita said.

"Matt Cecchin is a human being, who has family and friends who deeply care about his wellbeing & health.

"It isn’t nice to hear that people are still doing this.

"If you know anyone who is doing this, PLEASE tell them to STOP!!! #STOP Please share and stop this."

Cecchin became only the second player or official in the NRL to come out publicly as gay just short of six years ago and was widely praised for his bravery.

However, sources say the 43-year-old, who came out in February 2012, has been subjected to homophobic abuse and was shaken by the messages to his son saying there was a bounty on his father’s head.

World Cup Head of Referees Tony Archer said after the match in Auckland that Cecchin made 100 percent the right decision in awarding a knock-on, although he was still overlooked for the final with Gerard Sutton preferred instead.

It has been reported in The Sun that the Australian official has now called in lawyers and may take legal action after New Zealand broadcaster Phil Gifford said there was an “unconscious racist element” for Cecchin choosing not to send the call to the Video Referee.

Tonga enjoyed a fantastic World Cup campaign and became the first tier-two nation to taste success against a tier-one nation when they beat New Zealand 28-22 in Christchurch.

After very nearly producing one of the greatest comebacks in the sport’s history in the semi-final, it can only be hoped that the words from Fifita will stop the abuse of Cecchin and Tonga’s reputation won’t be tarnished after a fantastic tournament.