Rugby: World Cup referee's picture with Wales fans riles French

A photo online appears to show South African referee Jaco Peyper in the middle of a group of Welsh fans, raising his elbow to seemingly mimic the incident that led to France lock Vahaamahina's sending-off.
A photo online appears to show South African referee Jaco Peyper in the middle of a group of Welsh fans, raising his elbow to seemingly mimic the incident that led to France lock Vahaamahina's sending-off.PHOTO: ARNAUD COUDRY / TWITTER

TOKYO (REUTERS) - South African referee Jaco Peyper has landed himself in hot water with French rugby fans by appearing to pose for a picture with a group of Welsh supporters with a raised elbow, mimicking a key incident in the close-fought match.

Wales beat France 20-19 in a dramatic rugby World Cup quarter-final on Sunday (Oct 20) and Peyper, who officiated the game, sent off France lock Sebastien Vahaamahina for elbowing Aaron Wainwright in the face when France were leading 19-10.

A picture being circulated on social media appears to show Peyper in the middle of a group of Welsh fans, raising his elbow to seemingly mimic the incident that led to Vahaamahina's sending-off.

"As much as Vahaamahina deserves his red card, Jaco Peyper deserves to stop officiating in the World Cup after that. He can celebrate his match but this joke is unworthy of a referee," one fan wrote on Twitter.

"Card fully justified, but after this photo I do wonder about the impartiality of the man in black," another one added.

Wales rallied to win after the red card, setting up a semi-final with South Africa.

Vahaamahina is scheduled to attend an independent judicial committee hearing into his sending off on Thursday.