Former England World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward says that he fully supports referee Jaco Peyper after his appearance in a controversial photo with Wales fans.
The photo depicting Peyper posing with a raised elbow received much criticism online earlier this week, as it seemingly shows the South African referee mimicking the act of France lock Sebastien Vahaamahina, who received a red card from Peyper during Wales’ quarter-final victory over France.
World Rugby investigated the incident and have subsequently confirmed that Peyper was not considered for officiating selection for this weekend’s semi-finals, after being captured in the ‘inappropriate’ photo.
In his column for The Daily Mail, Woodward labelled World Rugby’s handling of the incident as ‘ludicrous’ and blasted high-ranking French rugby officials for having started the furore.
‘Referees are not immune from criticism but I support Jaco Peyper 100 per cent in having a little fun with Welsh supporters on Sunday night,’ wrote Woodward.
‘It’s ludicrous that the so-called incident is being investigated in any way and for those in the French camp kicking off, I would say you have infinitely more serious things to be considering. Such as your shambolic coaching and persistent ill-discipline on the pitch which for decades now has seen France underperform.
‘Come on guys, get your sense of humour back. The match was done and Vahaamahina’s red card was one of the more obvious dismissals of the 21st century!’
Peyper has since apologised for the photo but Woodward says that the French have nothing to complain about following the blatant act of foul play by Vahaamahina.
‘There is zero controversy or intrigue here, the French lock got precisely what he deserved,’ continued Woodward. ‘Every ref in the world would have sent him packing.
‘Jaco Peyper was out relaxing after a huge game and the day a referee can not enjoy a beer and a joke with either the players or fans is the day rugby has lost its way.
‘Knowing French rugby fans very well, as I do, had it been them Jaco bumped into, I’m sure they would have put aside their disappointment and also enjoyed a joke – who knows, they might even have posed for the identical picture.’