Spring in 2020 has marked the much-needed return of international Test rugby in both hemispheres of the globe.
Once again the officialdom at a major sporting event has left a lot to be desired, this time at the quarter-final stage of the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
You would think by now with the advent of modern technology that mistakes would be few and far between, but alas no.
In the 76th minute of the quarter-final match between Wales and France, referee Jaco Peyper made a crucial decision very quickly.
Why the referee at the bare minimum didn’t look at the pass from different angles to ensure that he made the correct decision after to the naked eye it appeared to have travelled anywhere from a half to a metre forward is a mystery, especially considering that his decision was more than likely going to be match-defining.
Most rugby experts around the world were unified in their bewilderment and disbelief that Peyper awarded the try given that the replays showed that the trajectory of the ball had travelled forward after being stripped in the lead up to the try.
A 14-man French team had tenaciously defended their tryline for close to 30 minutes in the second half after the French lock Sebastien Vahaamahina had justifiably been shown a red card for an elbow to the face of Welsh flanker Aaron Wainwright.
To make matters worse for the French fans and to add insult to injury after the match Peyper put himself in a compromising
situation and showed poor judgement when he posed for a photo with Welsh fans smiling and mimicking an elbow to the head.
To their credit, World Rugby stood down Peyper from the semi-finals for his inappropriate and insensitive actions with Welsh fans, but does that photo now bring into question the impartiality and integrity of the referee even though his actions were in jest?
It’s a shame that this match will go down in history clouded in controversy as it was a great match. Tt can only be hoped that lessons will be learnt and that the next time a crucial decision needs to be made that the referee dissects it with a fine-tooth comb and takes as long as he needs to get the decision right.