If one listens to Fabien Galthié and Antoine Dupont’s comments after Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final, it is clear that the French are not too pleased with referee Ben O’Keeffe’s handling of the match.
The Roosters’ World Cup campaign came to an end when they lost 29-28 against the Springboks at the Stade de France.
“I don’t want to be a bitter person who complains about the referee simply because I lost the power-play, but there is a lot of disappointment and frustration and we can’t wait to work through the match footage,” said Dupont.
Among the incidents that have the French hot under the collar is Eben Etzebeth’s alleged ball slapping session with an open Springbok goal line beckoning for the home team, while Kwagga Smith’s play at the breakdown points should also have been in the spotlight.
“It is clear that the whistle should have been blown harder. I don’t think the refereeing performance was up to standard; especially not when you consider what was at stake,” complained the French captain.
According to Galthié, he understands his players’ displeasure with the whistleblower’s performance.
“I understand that there is a lot of frustration and emotion involved; it is something that is difficult to process. However, the game is over and I will accept the decisions.”
However, Dupont believes that O’Keeffe’s alleged poor handling of the match does not take away the luster of the Springbok triumph.
“They played very well in the second half and especially dominated the game up front.”
For their part, Jacques Nienaber and Siya Kolisi are quite satisfied with the 34-year-old referee’s performance.
“I thought that Ben did a good job. Especially his communication with the players was excellent,” said Nienaber.
According to the Springbok captain, his team has no control over the referee’s decisions, but he also has no problem with O’Keeffe’s handling of the quarter-final.
“We will analyze the game again, but the discussions with him and his decisions were fair. I will not discredit a referee, but Antoine is of course entitled to his own opinion.”