After his press conference on Wednesday, the coach of the XV of France gave a long interview to L'Équipe. In which he addresses the subject of arbitration. With caution and moderation. Specifying that, if he sent the boss of World Rugby referees, the Frenchman Joël Jutge, a clip bringing together nine actions from the quarter-final lost against South Africa on which he would like explanations regarding the refereeing of the Neo -Zealander Ben O'Keeffe, he did not want to fuel the controversy. “I want to stay on a message of construction. I want us to accept, and to go beyond,” the coach of the XV of France insisted.
“I don’t want to focus on that, I’m an educator, so I’m going to be very careful about what I say. There are two opponents, with a refereeing body in the middle, that is to say a central referee, linesmen, and a TMO. And it gives what it gives. (…) It will seem paradoxical compared to what I can say, to the images that I sent, but I find that the referees work well, and that we work well with them. What happened to them is not fair. They are on the right track. This debate weakens them and it bothers me. Because it weakens rugby in general, it weakens the victory of the South Africans, it takes away the legitimacy of the performance. I'm afraid that we will take these debates as a boomerang. The problem is consistency.”
Fabien Galthié particularly regrets this last point. “After the group matches, for the quarter-finals, it was decided to use less images. To go faster, have less discussion. I also think that it was decided to let the field referee make as many decisions as possible. And for the half, everyone came back. Like backpedaling. What is complicated to understand is consistency. That’s what put the referees in difficulty.”
He finally returned to the annoyance of the Blues, more and more visible as the match progressed, towards Mr. O'Keeffe. “This tension is a fact of the match which contributed to degrading our lucidity, our accuracy. Between influencing the referee, supporting him, and putting himself in opposition, the border is fragile. And there, I think we have touched the border. (…) Sometimes you can push the decision (of the referee). And sometimes you can't. And there, that was not possible.”