After his controversial decisions, referee Ben O'Keefe fell victim to online harassment

After his controversial decisions, referee Ben O'Keefe fell victim to online harassment

The New Zealander, who blew the whistle in the quarter-final match that the Blues lost to the Springboks, has been subjected to violent criticism since Sunday.

It is he who crystallizes all criticism. The decisions taken by New Zealand referee Ben O'Keefe, on Sunday, during the quarter-final match that France lost to South Africa (28-29), sparked great controversy. Immediately, Blues coach Fabien Galthiet did not want to comment on these choices. But French captain Antoine Dupont got his feet into the problem. “Even if I don't want to feel bitter after a defeat, I must admit that the refereeing was not up to the task of such an event, He took the photo in the grandstand of the Stade de France. There are decisions that may surprise you. But this observation in no way detracts from the merits of our opponent, who played a wonderful match, and we must congratulate him for that.»

Since then, the Kiwi, who will referee the second semi-final between South Africa and England on Saturday (9pm), has been the target of violent online harassment on social media. To the point of deletion, on His account on InstagramThe ability to respond to his last post. But that did not prevent some angry fans from flooding one of these posts with hate messages dating back to the Japan-Argentina match (27-39).

“We are never perfect as referees, we certainly make mistakes.”

“It's obviously a very difficult time emotionally.”O'Keefe told New Zealand Television on Wednesday NewsHub. “Players and coaches say things whether you win or lose. I know we are never perfect as referees, we definitely make mistakes in the game; He admitted. But the comments that players can make, they can make after the match. I'm sure everything is fine, we have finished my exam and we will get things back to normal. But I understand the (general) feeling after a big match like this.”

Indeed, after the 2023 Super Rugby final between the Chiefs and Crusaders, he was violently attacked by Chiefs supporters. He then posted a response to his critics, which he has since pinned to the top of his Instagram account (less).

Ben O'Keefe explained at the time that “Unfortunately, as a senior referee, he has to accept and live with the vitriol that fans are accustomed to after matches.» He added: “Referees are part of the game and we need to support players and coaches to have the difficult conversations in private, and support match officials publicly – not criticize them. It will change the way fans treat us.»

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Realizing this Super Rugby final”There have been some great decisions, and some bad decisions that I accept I made and need to improve. Progress is the thing that motivates me to be better. We need rugby to become the best sport in the world, on and off the field. Let's do it together.“And fear of the worst:”I think back to Europa League final referee walking at the airport His family chairs were thrown at them. I wish my family never had to go through this, but given the direction some rugby fans are taking now, I know we're closer to it than we were. This is one of many recent examples of someone overstepping the bounds towards a rugby match referee.»

“The conversion had to be redone, with fees banned this time. It's the norm!”

However, some of the top 14 referees, both former and still active, are pointing the finger at the New Zealander's mistakes. Most notably, Thomas Ramos's conversion was saved by Cheslin Kolbe. “The player must start behind his goal line and has already started with his foot on the line, so his starting position is illegal, Former referee Maxime Chalon confirms to RMC. Then we see clearly, in another slow motion, that he is ascending before the Frenchman begins his march. Moving the upper body is not enough to start; it must start running backwards or forwards, and this is not the case. According to him, “This transformation had to be re-implemented by blocking shipping this time. It's the norm!”

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In columns the teamBlues winger, Louis Bel-Bear, wanted the New Zealand referee acquitted. “We questioned him a little. It is true that some situations do not go our way. But he believes that it is not just two or three small actions in which we lose the match. The refereeing was not with us but we were not precise in some areas. Maybe this is the last straw, but the vase “It was already full.”

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