Rugby World Cup: France captain Antoine Dupont points finger at Kiwi referee Ben O'Keeffe after quarter-final defeat

France captain Antoine Dupont has taken a parting shot at the performance of NZ referee Ben O'Keeffe, after the hosts were bundled out of the Rugby World Cup by South Africa in the quarter-finals.

O'Keeffe presided over the tense showdown between the world's second and third-ranked teams, which saw the defending champions prevail 29-28 and advance to meet England in next Sunday's semi-final.

Dupont, the 2022 World Rugby Player of the Year, returned from a broken cheek to inspire his team with a fine display, after missing their final pool game, but felt the French had been on the wrong end of a few decisions from O'Keeffe.

Antoine Dupont communicates with referee Ben O'Keeffe.
Antoine Dupont communicates with referee Ben O'Keeffe. Photo credit: Getty Images

"It's hard to talk about things at the moment, but there were a few clear things that should have been blown that weren't blown," he said. "I don't want to be a bad loser and complain about the refereeing, but I'm not sure it was up to the mark tonight. 

"This doesn't take anything away from the South Africans, who beat us in the fight tonight, they played really well."

France coach Fabien Galthie did not join his captain's criticism of the officiating, although he did point out that South Africa lock Eben Etzebeth's fumbled interception attempt, when the French were pressing for a second early try, was a key moment.

"I understand the players' frustrations, I really do, but I won't criticise the refereeing," he said. "We congratulate South Africa and hope they continue with success in the tournament.

"We have to be brave tonight as we have been for the last four years." 

Galthie's first thoughts after the defeat were for the fans who had supported the team so vociferously throughout the campaign, as well as the players and their families, but he had no regrets about how it had been conducted.

Ben O'Keeffe shows Springboks lock Eden Etzebeth a yellow card.
Ben O'Keeffe shows Springboks lock Eden Etzebeth a yellow card. Photo credit: Getty Images

"No regrets, none," he said. "The players have a right to lose a match like this.  

"I thought we did everything to optimise our potential and we dealt with a few incidents as well.

"For four years, we wrote a beautiful picture for French rugby, the players can be proud, coaches can be proud."


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