Springboks v France

The Springboks in action against France. Photo: SA Rugby X @springboks

France coach: Ref got it ‘wrong’ in RWC against Springboks

France coach Fabien Galthie has suggested the loss to the Springboks in the World Cup quarter-final was partly due to ‘refereeing decisions’.

Springboks v France

The Springboks in action against France. Photo: SA Rugby X @springboks

The Springboks’ progress to the 2023 Rugby World Cup title witnessed a number of thrilling results along the way, but none were more dramatic than the comeback one-point win against France in the quarter-finals.

Following the match, numerous French fans and many members of the Les Bleus team questioned the performance of referee Ben O’Keeffe, who was jeered for the remainder of the tournament.

Straight after the clash, France skipper Antoine Dupont called out the referee for not being able to handle the occasion.

“It’s hard to talk about things because there is a lot of disappointment, a lot of frustration … there were a few clear things where the whistle wasn’t blown where we could have had a penalty at a crucial moment.

“I don’t want to be a bad loser and moan about the refereeing, but I’m not sure the refreeing was up to the level of what was at stake today,” said Dupont.

France again have suggested the Springboks were benefited by the ref

France coach Fabien Galthie recently revealed discussions with O’Keeffe at a recent World Rugby gathering.

“We lost the quarter-final for rugby reasons but also for refereeing decisions,” Galthie was quoted by Midi Olympique. “We also spoke about it with Ben O’Keeffe during a recent meeting at World Rugby.

“The decision is part of the match and we accept it. You will never see me react directly to an arbitration decision. But we can discuss it coldly.

“In a World Rugby committee, I therefore had the opportunity to speak with Ben O’Keeffe.

“At one point in the meeting there was a discussion about the behaviour of the selectors. I took the floor and said that we had a major role as educators and that we must behave with respect towards the referees. This is fundamental.

“I told him that my players had been strongly impacted by questionable decisions. Everyone agreed on the fact that some decisions weren’t the right ones. He wasn’t at all happy with his performance either.”

“There is a ball stolen with elbows on the ground by Kwagga Smith which gives three points to the Springboks, for example,” he added.

“Today we want to count on the work of regulation and rules undertaken in these World Rugby committees. We must make our voices heard.”

Immediate reaction

During the World Cup, O’Keeffe shook off the criticism and will likely review his own performance.

“Players and coaches are going to say things, whether you win or lose. I know that we’re never perfect as referees, you definitely make errors in the game,” O’Keeffe told Newshub.

“But comments that players can make, they can do that after the game. In the heat of battle, things are said. I’m sure everything’s fine. We’ve done my review and we’ll reach out and get things back on track as well.

“But I understand the sentiment after a big match like that.”