World Rugby is investigating after referee Jaco Peyper appeared in a photo with Wales fans seemingly mocking France lock Sebastien Vahaamahina.
Vahaamahina was red-carded by Peyper for throwing an elbow in a decisive moment as France let a 12-point lead slip to lose to Wales in the World Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.
Following the match, Peyper appeared in a photograph with Wales fans that was shared on social media, with the South African referee appearing to emulate Vahaamahina’s act to the face of one of the fans.
The picture led to an angry reaction from French fans, while France Rugby vice-president Serge Simon said if the photo was true, it would be ‘shocking’.
World Rugby has announced that it is establishing the facts around the photo.
‘World Rugby is aware of a picture on social media of referee Jaco Peyper with a group of Wales fans taken after last night’s [Sunday] quarter-final between Wales and France in Oita,’ the governing body said in a statement.
‘It would be inappropriate to comment further while we are establishing the facts.’