The French captain questioned if Ben O'Keeffe was "up to the level of what was at stake"
In the wake of France’s 29-28 loss to South Africa in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals, les Bleus captain Antoine Dupont criticised referee Ben O’Keeffe, saying “I’m not sure the refereeing was up to the level of what was at stake.”
Talking after the enthralling one-point loss, Dupont added: “We could have had some crucial penalties but I don’t want to be a bad loser.”
One moment that drew the ire of the French support was shortly after les Bleus opened the scoring through Cyril Baille. With the hosts on the attack again, Eben Etzebeth shot out to try and cut out a pass, knocking the ball down in the process. It was adjudged to have gone backwards, despite the protestations of the fans.
On that moment and other important points of the match, France head coach Fabien Galthie said: “There are so many key moments. When you’re leading 7-0 and (Eben) Etzebeth cut off the ball. That was a strong moment for us and we weren’t able to finish off. Soon afterwards it was 7-7. Those are key moments…which add up. So many things went on.”
South Africa’s reaction to hearing that Dupont criticises referee
Asked about his view on Dupont criticising the referee, South Africa captain Siya Kolisi said: “From our side, all we can do is play rugby. We can’t control the decisions the ref makes. We will have to look at the game but the communications with him and the calls he made were fair. I would never discredit the referee. Obviously Antoine has his own opinion.
“It was an amazing game, it was tough, physically it flowed. The way the two teams played outshines everything else. It was an amazing atmosphere. The French team have been building for four years so we knew it would take something special for us to win this game.
“For a leader like Antoine to come back and play like he did, we give credit to him and France and all the French people who made this World Cup so special. When we heard the anthems, we knew how loud it was going to be. The people of France can be proud of their team.
“It was a one-point game. Things like the charge-down from Cheslin (Kolbe), you don’t see that every day. It was going to take something special for us to win. The French team and Antoine can hold their heads up high.”
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