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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

France captain Antoine Dupont ‘didn’t think the refereeing was at the level needed’ after Springbok loss

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France captain Antoine Dupont criticised the refereeing after his side crashed out of the Rugby World Cup in a 29-28 defeat to the Springboks in the quarter-finals.

Scrum-half Dupont said match official Ben O’Keeffe should have penalised the South Africans for slowing down French possession when the home side were attacking late during the game.

There were also contentious decisions including South Africa lock Eben Etzebeth‘s attempted intercept and flanker Kwagga Smith’s turnover at a breakdown.

“I don’t want to be the bitter person who complains about the referee because I lost the game,” Dupont said.

“There’s a lot of disappointment and frustration but we can’t wait to see the footage again.

“There are clear things that should have been whistled.

“I don’t think the refereeing was at the level of what was at stake today,” he added.

France head coach Galthie backed his skipper’s opinion but chose not to single out New Zealand match official O’Keeffe.

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“I understand the players’ frustration,” Galthie said.

“I understand there is lot of frustration, emotion, it’s difficult to digest.

“I will accept it, as it’s already happened, the decisions,” he added.

France led by three points at half-time before South Africa introduced experienced half-backs Handre Pollard and Faf de Klerk.

Etzebeth forced over the line, with French defenders practically hanging off him, for a crucial try in the final 20 minutes before Pollard kicked a conversion and a penalty.

“The refereeing doesn’t take anything away from the South African performance,” Dupont said.

“They played really well in the second half. They dominated us up front,” 2021’s World Rugby player of the year added.

Three of South Africa’s tries result from putting boot to ball.

“They used high kicks well,” Galthie said. “It gave them good moments.

“We prepared for it but they were efficient. The game came down to one point,” he added.

Galthie announced prop Uini Atonio and lock Romain Taofifenua would retire from Test rugby after the defeat.

But the coach, whose contract runs until June 2028, said he would be staying in his job.

He has transformed the fortunes of France since taking over as head coach in December 2020, leading them to just one home defeat during his time in charge as well as a 2022 Six Nations Grand Slam.

“Over the past four years until today and today we wrote a great page in French rugby’s history,” he said.

“The players, the staff and federation can be proud.

“We can also be sad, we didn’t get the result,” he added.


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