As the Rugby World Cup kicks off with France taking on the All Blacks, the spotlight falls on the referee, Jaco Peyper, and his history in the tournament.
France’s preparations for the tournament have been marred by injuries, particularly the absence of Romain Ntamack, a significant blow to their campaign. New Zealand, on the other hand, secured The Rugby Championship but suffered a substantial defeat at the hands of the Springboks in London, conceding 35 points while only managing to score seven.
Despite these factors, the Friday night clash promises to be a thrilling curtain-raiser, scheduled to commence at 8.15pm following the highly anticipated opening ceremony at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, Paris.
“Referee Jaco Peyper and Controversial Moments at Rugby World Cups”
The referee for this formidable opening matchup is Jaco Peyper, representing SARU (South African Rugby Union). Assisting him are Karl Dickson and Christophe Ridley from RFU (Rugby Football Union), with Tom Foley (RFU) as the TMO (Television Match Official).
Jaco Peyper, a 43-year-old South African born in Bloemfontein, boasts a distinguished career as a rugby referee. He made his Super Rugby debut in 2008 and officiated his first Test match in 2011. Apart from his rugby career, Peyper is a trained lawyer.
Peyper has officiated at two Rugby World Cups, in 2015 and 2019, and notably, he was the youngest referee at the 2015 Rugby World Cup at the age of 35. He also had the honor of refereeing a British and Irish Lions Test match during their 2017 tour of New Zealand.
In 2019, during a quarter-final clash between Wales and France at the Rugby World Cup, Peyper controversially issued a red card to French lock Sebastien Vahaamahina for elbowing Aaron Wainwright in the head. Wales subsequently scored ten unanswered points, leading to a narrow 20-19 victory. After the game, Peyper faced backlash for posing with Wales fans and mimicking an elbow gesture, which appeared to reference the Vahaamahina incident. As a result, World Rugby did not consider him for selection in the semi-finals, opting for Jerome Garces and Nigel Owens instead. Peyper later apologized and acknowledged the inappropriateness of his actions.
Notably, Peyper’s refereeing decisions came under scrutiny once more during the Six Nations when he issued a red card to Freddie Steward for a contentious collision with Hugo Keenan during the England vs. Ireland match.
Despite these controversies, Peyper’s impressive refereeing career has earned him the Referee of the Year award four times, in 2012, 2017, 2018, and 2020. He remains a key figure in the world of rugby officiating, describing his role as “the best seat in the house.”