Referee Ben O’Keefe was chosen by either Antoine Dupont or Fabien Galthie at the end of the match on Sunday evening. They particularly criticized his decisions on regroupment areas.
Usually rather smooth in front of the press, Antoine Dupont had a stubborn resentment for once. ““I think some of the obvious, obvious things that could be whistled down were not.”The captain whispered in a press conference, shortly after the Blues’ harsh elimination by South Africa (28-29), Sunday, October 15, in the quarter-finals of the World Cup. “I don’t want to be bitter […]But I’m not sure the refereeing was up to the challenge.”The French captain continued before calling on his fans to bear witness: “And what do you think about it from your outside perspective?”
It was his competition, and Gersua gave everything they could to compete in this quarter – and what a comeback it was! – 24 days after the zygomatic maxilla fracture. In this sense, his frustration an hour after the final whistle is audible. “Having managed him many times, he has unparalleled human qualities, he is the best ‘More “respect”But what are the concrete criticisms that Antoine Dupont and some of his colleagues have of the refereeing body embodied on the field by New Zealander Ben O’Keefe, says Laurent Cardona, the former Top 14 referee.
First there is the visual side of the iceberg. This striker from Eben Etzeth in front of his goal, for example, deliberately stopped a ready-made attempt (sixth) immediately after the first, planted by Cyril Bailly. The man in black saw this as a step backwards and did it without using video. “This deserved at least a yellow card.”Cardona thinks. A penalty attempt could also have been agreed. “We should lead by 12 or 14 points, and after a few minutes we lead 7-7.”explained coach Fabien Galthiet.
“The refereeing lacked consistency and systematic evaluation of some situations to the detriment of the French team.”Laurent Cardona, former Top 14 referee
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There is still that supersonic rise of winger Cheslin Kolbe to face the transition from Tomas Ramos (22). It’s difficult to know if the Springbok will leave in slow motion before Tomas Ramos begins his campaign, but the image in question was only broadcast after the match. The only live footage available does not show where the former Toulousan player is departing from, and no warning was given to video referee Ben O’Keefe, beyond a few disturbances with Jesse Creel’s front elbow.
Rocks, the crux of the problem
“The TMO and surrounding judges have as much time to review the images as we do and have the right to participate in the judging.” Fabian Galthie pointed out about this. This restriction responds to the instructions of World Rugby, which ensures that the rhythm is not interrupted by untimely video calls. This intervened once to punish Etzith with a yellow card confirmed by the “dugout” due to a header on Oyeni Atunio (minute 40). The extenuating circumstances in which they were kept – the giant ducks in the second row – are understandable.
But in reality, these isolated instances did not arouse the ire of the Blues, who were quick to point the finger at South Africa’s behavior in the assembly areas (also called the “concentrate”). The Blues lamented the overall consistency of the match more than the facts of the match at the moment. “And if they come together, they become disreputable.”Galthie noted.
After a few minutes, the prostitute Beto Mufaka made his displeasure clear: “They were tackling from both sides or not coming out of the tackle… We thought we would get several penalties for us, but that was not the case.”. In these areas, World Rugby orders players “Immediately back off” into these rocks to make it easier to release the ball. “It is a very difficult area to arbitrate, but South Africa has often gone over the top there.”Cardona says.
Ben O’Keefe changed his habits
“When we go 60 meters and slow down in the rocks, it’s still very easy to blow the whistle.”Antoine Dupont continued. At the beginning of the second half, the Blues camped for a long period within 40 meters of the opponent, without obtaining a penalty kick that could have allowed Thomas Ramos to extend the narrow gap. During the match, South Africa were penalized six times. It’s a very small sum, but he’s like the French, and that above all attests to the very undemanding character of Ben O’Keefe, who is keen to keep the ball as alive as possible.
“I will not say that this was intentional. I certainly do not see Ben O’Keefe as a dishonest person. But his inability to manage the match deprived the French team of the semi-finals.”Laurent Cardona, Director of Discipline at Soyo Angoulême
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However, this principle contradicts the habits of the New Zealander, who is famous for being difficult to please in the team, as happened during the match against Uruguay (15 penalties in total against the French). Hiring him five days before the game allowed the Blues to prepare with those habits in mind. They did not expect such a transformation.
In his communication, the referee preferred to be educational on Sunday by issuing orders to the South African defenders to leave the protest areas or to release the player who was interfered with as soon as he fell to the ground. The exchanges between O’Keeffe and DuPont, observed in the second half, showed a difference of views on these points. “It’s a long time, we can’t play fast balls.”Half the party was cursed after the break. The official responded – in French: “I see what you mean, I’m looking.”.
Adaptation South Africa
If they didn’t score a penalty, that slow exit of the ball, by definition, prevented the Blues from executing a dynamic play – despite their lack of power in the end. Ditto, from the passes after the contacts, which put them ahead in the first half. “If the ball comes out quicker and becomes available, we finish the play differentlyOnce time ran out, Galthie lamented the final French attack.
“The South Africans tried and saw that the referee would not give them creditLaurent Cardona continues. Like all smart players, they continued to adapt, slowing the ball down by barely pretending to be out, to give the defense the ability to recover by buying time.
In this sense, this French frustration is understandable, even if it is not possible to attribute all of their evening troubles to Mr. O’Keefe, who had absolutely nothing to do with the French’s shortcomings in high play or late attacking support. “Unfortunately, error is human, it is not the refereeing that caused us to lose the match.”Jonathan Dante Center concluded. At least this episode allows us to put aside once and for all the so-called values, according to which rugby is impervious to refereeing criticism.
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