Referee Jaco Peyper was not considered for a Rugby World Cup semi-final appointment after an “inappropriate” picture of him with Welsh fans appeared on social media.
World Rugby investigated the circumstances around South African official Peyper appearing to mock the elbow to the head that earned France lock Sebastien Vahaamahina a red card against quarter-final opponents Wales on Sunday.
Peyper sent Vahaamahina off for striking Wales flanker Aaron Wainwright in the face. A photograph then emerged on social media showing him posing with Welsh fans and playfully landing an elbow on to the head of one.
In a statement, the governing body said: “World Rugby can confirm that the match officials selection committee did not consider Jaco Peyper for selection this weekend. Peyper recognises that a picture of him with Wales fans, which appeared on social media after the Wales versus France quarter-final, was inappropriate and he has apologised.”
Peyper could only have been in contention for a role in the England versus New Zealand semi-final, as South Africa are playing Wales in the other game.
Welshman Nigel Owens will take charge of England against the All Blacks, with France’s Jerome Garces officiating Wales versus South Africa. French pair Romain Poite and Pascal Gauzere will be assistant referees in the England match, with England’s Wayne Barnes and New Zealander Ben O’Keeffe filling those roles for the other tie.
World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “I would like to congratulate Nigel and Jerome, the assistant referees and TMOs (television match officials) on their selection for the semi-finals. These are the best of the best, supported by a superb team, and we now look forward to compelling semi-finals at International Stadium Yokohama over the weekend.”