Wellington - Blues chief executive Andy Dalton on Thursday condemned "lowlife" racial abuse aimed at coach Pat Lam after the New Zealand-based team's worst-ever start to a Super Rugby season.
Lam, a New Zealander of Samoan descent, broke down in tears Wednesday describing how he and his family had faced anonymous racial abuse on social media and talkback radio over the team's performance.
Dalton said some comments on the Blues' own website had suggested the team's form slump was due to Lam's Pacific island background, despite attempts to moderate the site's content.
"We are dealing with a lot of criticism that is racially motivated on our website, we're deleting that and have filters in place but some of it's getting through and certainly some has impacted on Pat's family," he told Radio New Zealand.
"I can't even repeat them, I wouldn't waste my breath frankly, but they are absolutely lowlife."
Dalton said the entire Auckland franchise was hurting after losing five of their first six opening matches but singling out Lam's ethnicity was unacceptable.
"It's not racism within Auckland rugby, I think it's an element of our society," he said. "It's a very ugly part of our society and we've all got a responsibility to shut that down."
Lam became emotional on Wednesday recounting the vitriolic attacks he and his family had endured as the three-times champions struggle in this year's competition.
"It's the faceless people, and that's social media and so forth and talkback, when people say things that are pretty offensive, making out that it's because I'm an islander that we're losing, that's just offensive," he told reporters.
New Zealand is a major destination for migrants from Polynesia and almost a third of the All Blacks' 30-man squad that won the Rugby World Cup last year boast Pacific heritage.