Following the decision not to consider referee Jaco Peyper for the World Cup semi-finals this weekend after he featured in a picture taken with Welsh fans after last Sunday’s quarter-final in Oita, World Rugby have received some heavy criticism from fans on social media.
The South African referee, who would have been in contention to referee England’s contest with the All Blacks, has been overlooked after being seen in a photo with fans mimicking Sebastien Vahaamahina’s elbow which resulted in Peyper sending the lock off during France’s loss to Wales.
Fans have said the photo was in poor judgement by the referee but only that, insisting it didn’t indicate any malice or bias. This was the clearest red card of the World Cup so far, an act of wanton violence by the second row against Aaron Wainwright.
The post-game picture was just a case of a referee interacting with fans and the aftermath – according to fans on Twitter – is an example of “political correctness” as Peyper’s pose was no more than a joke. There is no denying that Peyper should not have done this, but it is hard to see what the photo indicates.
Had he made light of the contentious rip by Tomos Williams in the denying minutes of the game that led to Ross Moriarty’s try, then the reaction from World Rugby would be justified as any referee would get in trouble for joking about such controversial decisions.
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But the dismissal of the Frenchman was in no way controversial and fans feel there was an unnecessary overreaction by World Rugby, the England-New Zealand semi-final being robbed of one of the best referees in the game. This is what has been said:
Jaco Peyper: World Rugby omits fan-picture referee from semi-finals Call me old fashioned, but I think the leaders of World ? have sunk to a pathetic level of political correctness. He was having a laugh and please don’t tell me, as a match official he can’t relax on time off.
— Duncan Lilley (@DuncanLilley) October 22, 2019
Whoever has ultimately made this decision at world rugby needs a real sense of perspective. If any other role within that game game such as a coach / player / analysis is pictured here instead of Peyper then 0 action is being taken. Completely unfair and 100% the wrong decision. pic.twitter.com/F8bZgp7E6g
— James Peters (@JamesPeters2502) October 22, 2019
Snowflakes and sore losers need to take a hard look at themselves if they think that Jaco Peyper should be sanctioned for what is a Mickey Take. Just shows him to be human and not a robot.
— Andy Kennedy (@Madtyke) October 22, 2019
@WorldRugby just read your decision to ‘stand down ‘ Jaco Peyper. An awful decision in my opinion. There was no malice in what he did , just a bit a harmless fun with some fans. Pathetic
— matthew harris (@miskinmatt) October 22, 2019
Peyper can't continue his job this weekend as people can't handle a joke between humans. It was in jest. He was surrounded by Welsh fans making him or asking him to do it. Live a little. #RWC2019
— Doug Leddin (@dougleddin) October 22, 2019
Feel for Jaco Peyper. Clear red card, no interpretation needed and look like he will be penalised for enjoying himself after the game. The bloke just getting amongst it and joking around about how stupid a player can be in a World Cup quarterfinals! #PrayforPeyper #RugbyWorldCup
— Steffan Jones (@steffan88757432) October 22, 2019
Anyone else think the Jaco Peyper photo “controversy” is a load of rubbish? Poor judgement to take the photo but there’s no ambiguity over the red card so why make such a big deal. Call him in “Jaco don’t be a twat & take those photos,now go back to work”#RWC19 #japan #Elbowgate
— Alan Daly (@Alan_Daly85) October 22, 2019
That Jaco Peyper photo was daft, maybe ill-advised and a tad unprofessional – but I think pulling him from the semis was a bit of an overreaction. That said, Peyper's refereeing is inconsistent and unpredictable, so to be honest I think the semis will be better for it. #RWC2019
— Steph Franklin (@stefmunkey) October 22, 2019
Nigel Owens is now set to referee the England versus All Blacks match, while Jerome Garces takes charge of Wales’ contest with South Africa, Peyper’s native country.
This decision has set a precedent in how referees should interact with fans and it has not reflected well on World Rugby.
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