In Depth

Rugby World Cup: referee puts elbow into France after Wales’s controversial win

Photo showing Jaco Peyper posing with Welsh fans leaves French furious

Rugby World Cup quarter-final Wales 20 France 19 

South African referee Jaco Peyper has outraged France after appearing to mock their defeat with Welsh fans. 

Wales squeaked past France 20-19 in a dramatic quarter-final that hinged on two controversial moments.

The first was the dismissal on 48 minutes of Sebastien Vahaamahina, the French second row, who was shown a red card for a blatant elbow to the face of Wales flanker Aaron Wainwright. 


France coach Jacques Brunel had no issue with the decision but he did dispute the other crucial moment in the second-half - the decision to award a try to Ross Moriarty five minutes from time. 

Television replays showed that the ball went forward as Tomos Williams ripped the ball free of French hands but officials awarded the Six Nations champions the match-winning try after studying the footage. 

“The last try, there is a player who pulled on the ball and it went forward and so that’s the decision I would like to see again because I am a little disappointed,” said Brunel. 

The law states that if a player rips the ball from an opponent and it goes forward it is technically adjudged to have come backwards simultaneously.

Bad call

Wales head coach Warren Gatland later admitted that “the better team lost today”, and France’s dejection has now been deepened by the photo of Peyper posing with Wales fans after the game. 

The South Africa appears to be re-enacting the elbow of Vahaamahina in an astonishing lapse of judgement. Not surprisingly French rugby fans are furious. 

“Card fully justified, but after this photo I do wonder about the impartiality of the man in black,” was typical of the response on social media, with Welsh fans also questioning the behaviour of Peyper.

Establishing the facts

The BBC reports that World Rugby has opened an investigation into the photo.

A statement said: “World Rugby is aware of a picture on social media of referee Jaco Peyper with a group of Wales fans taken after last night’s [Sunday] quarter-final between Wales and France in Oita. It would be inappropriate to comment further while we are establishing the facts.”

French Rugby Federation vice-president Serge Simon said: “This photo if it is true is shocking and explanations will be necessary.”

Wales set up showdown with Springboks

Wales will play South Africa in the semi-final on Sunday after the Springboks ended Japan’s World Cup adventure with a ruthless 26-3 victory. 

As predicted, the South Africans used their superior size to suffocate the host nation, doing what Ireland and Scotland had been unable to do in the pool stage.

Two tries from wing Makazole Mapimpi and one from scrum-half Faf de Klerk sealed an emphatic victory for South Africa while a Yu Tamura penalty was all that Japan managed.

“They’re all about seven-foot-five,” reflected Japan winger Lomano Lemeki. “What can you do? You can’t ask to be bigger… they just bashed the s*** out of us.”

RWC quarter-final results 
  • Saturday 19 October: England 40 Australia 16  
  • Saturday 19 October: New Zealand 46 Ireland 14  
  • Sunday 20 October: Wales 20 France 19  
  • Sunday 20 October: Japan 3 South Africa 26 
RWC semi-final fixtures 
  • Saturday 26 October: England vs. New Zealand (9am; International Stadium, Yokohama; live on ITV)  
  • Sunday 27 October: Wales vs. South Africa (9am; International Stadium, Yokohama; live on ITV)


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