World Rugby has identified “five major errors”in Ben O’Keeffe’s handling of the South Africa vs France quaterfinal – but only three benefitted the winning Springboks.
The French captain Antoine Dupont claimed the Kiwi ref was not up to the challenge of the quarter-final won by South Africa 29-28 last weekend.
It included a controversial charge down from Cheslin Kolbe of Thomas Ramos’ conversion attempt – that has divided the internet with various versions of the incident shared ever since.
Kolbe ran from his own tryline to block Ramos’s kick.
Midi Olympique says a World Rugby analysis of referee O’Keeffe’s performance showed Kolbe left the tryline too early, and the conversion should have been re-taken.
The other decisions included a a dangerous clean-out by Pieter-Steph du Toit in the 17th minute – for which World Rugby say the Bok flanker should have been yellow carded – and Kwagga Smith’s halfway-line turnover in the second half, which Handre Pollard converted for South Africa’s winning points.
World Rugby also reportedly ruled that France winger Damian Penaud should have been yellow carded for a dangerous tackle on Eben Etzebeth in the ninth minute, and Cameron Woki should have been penalised for offside when Faf de Klerk threw a pass into the French forward as he laid on the ground. De Klerk was trying to pass to Handre Pollard for a likely drop-goal attempt.
“According to our information, during the analysis of the referees’ performance by World Rugby, the quarter-final between the Blues and the Springboks included five major “errors”. Three are against the French, two in their favor,” a translation of the Midi Olympique story reads,
“As after each match, the match of Ben O’Keeffe and his assessors was obviously reviewed and analyzed in depth by his World Rugby supervisors, who recognized several errors in his management of the match. According to our information, five of them can be considered major, including three to the disadvantage of the XV of France.”
South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has been accused of misogyny after blocking a journalist on social media platform X.
Erasmus picked a fight with Ben Smith, who works for the World Rugby-affiliated RugbyPass site, before deleting the post.
Rassie referred to Smith as “her” three times, later claiming it was a “typo”. “Guys let’s ignore her please! Block her and let her bask in peace!! Us Lions does not care about the opinion of a sheep,” wrote Erasmus, 48 hours out from the Springboks’ World Cup semi-final against England in Paris.
British journalist Jessica Hayden responded: “Using ‘her’ as an insult. In 2023. When his players tweeted their support of their women’s team only hours before this. Lovely stuff from a lovely man.”
Rugby analyst Will Owen chimed in with: “So is the joke that Rassie thinks women don’t understand rugby”, while another added: “How is being a female an insult?”
Erasmus’ posts came a day after he complained about a death threat aimed at one of his players from a French source.
South Africa have condemned the “hooligans” who sent a death threat to their halfback Cobus Reinach.
Montpellier player Reinach was targeted on social media in the wake of his country’s 29-28 quarter-final victory over hosts France.
Erasmus highlighted the abuse directed at the 33-year-old by posting a screen grab on his X account.
South Africa assistant coach Mzwandile Stick, who said Reinach is in a “good space”, praised the security levels at the tournament and believes the matter is being handled by the French authorities.
“We’re well aware of the situation with Cobus and his family,” Stick said on Friday on the eve of facing England in Paris.
“We don’t have a place for hooligans in our game. The players do their job to make sure they represent their country and we are here to represent South Africa.
“If somebody has got a problem with that, I think the French authorities will have to deal with that.
“But from our side, we’ll make sure we protect each other: our players, management, everyone involved.
“We don’t have a place for that in the game. You win some, lose some as part of the game.
“Whoever sent that message to the player, I’m really disappointed about that.
“We’ll keep doing everything in our powers to make sure we make our people proud at home.
“Regarding the situation, I think it’s well handled now by the French authorities.”
Reinach, who played in England for Northampton between 2017 and 2020, will start against Steve Borthwick’s side at the Stade de France as part of an unchanged South Africa line-up.
The message sent to him, translated from French, read: “Dirty son of a b****. I hope that when you return to Montpellier you get murdered by French people on the ground. Gang of thieves. Easy to win a title by cheating.”
Many France supporters criticised the performance of the match officials following their elimination at the hands of the Springboks, while Les Bleus captain Antoine Dupont suggested New Zealand referee Ben O’Keeffe was not “up to the level of the game”.
Asked how Reinach is feeling, Stick replied: “He’s proper. I’ve seen him every day.
“He’s in a good space, he’s got his family around him.
“In our camp, we must also give credit to the French security around our hotels. With all the teams, the security is just another level.
“I don’t think at the moment there is something to worry about because we know for sure we are well protected in our camps.”
Champions South Africa are overwhelming favourites to progress from Saturday’s (Sunday AEDT) game and remain on course to retain the crown they claimed against England in Yokohama four years ago.