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World Rugby are investigating the controversial photograph of referee Jaco Peyper, who appeared to recreate Sebastien Vahaamahina’s elbow that he was sent off for just hours before in France’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final defeat against Wales.
Peyper showed the French second-row a straight red card in the 49th minute of Saturday’s match at the Oita Stadium, a game-changing moment that helped Wales fight back to snatch a 20-19 victory and knock France out of the World Cup, after he deliberately struck Welsh flanker Aaron Wainwright with an elbow.
But the South African official landed himself in hot water by posing for a picture with a group of Welsh fans at Oita train station just hours after the match, infuriating the French Rugby Federation enough that vice-president Dr Serge Simon called for an investigation.
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“This photo if it is true is shocking and explanations will be necessary,” Dr Simon wrote on Twitter.
One French rugby great commented that the image of Peyper was “crazy” and “is not good at all, and not good for Wales either”, adding that it calls into question whether he could ever take charge of a French game again due to the side questioning his integrity.
In response, World Rugby have confirmed that they are looking into the matter, and with a referee’s meeting taking place on Monday ahead of the official appointments for this weekend’s semi-finals – due to be announced on Tuesday – it seems unlikely that Peyper will find himself in the running.
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