Fabien Galthie takes sly dig at Springboks boss Rassie Erasmus over referee-bashing

Jared Wright
France head coach Fabien Galthie and Springboks boss Rassie Erasmus.

France head coach Fabien Galthie and Springboks boss Rassie Erasmus.

France head coach Fabien Galthie has taken a swipe at Springboks boss Rassie Erasmus for using social media to criticise referees in an ironic plea to protect match officials.

Galthie spoke to French media this week to discuss France’s Six Nations campaign. Les Bleus finished second overall, behind Ireland, despite winning three of their five matches, drawing one, and losing one.

Losing the quarter-final to the Springboks

The subject of France’s crushing Rugby World Cup quarter-final loss to South Africa once again arose, and the French head coach maintained that referee Ben O’Keeffe influenced the outcome of the match.

Galthie explained that he spoke with O’Keeffe at World Rugby’s Shape of the Game forum recently and revealed that the New Zealander said he was not pleased with his performance in the quarter-final.

“In this match, I say that my players were strongly impacted by questionable, very questionable decisions,” Galthie said of the 29-28 defeat to the Springboks.

“The goal is to talk about it rationally, coldly, to change the way we understand our sport.

“We lost this match for rugby reasons but also for refereeing decisions. I talked about it with [O’Keeffe] who confided things to me. I then spoke with [the ref] in a very fair manner, one-on-one, and he himself told me that he was not at all satisfied with his performance.”

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Swipe at Rassie Erasmus

However, Galthie also managed to slip in a dig at Erasmus during his press conference, referencing the Springboks’ boss Twitter – now X – posts back in 2022.

Erasmus was banned for two matches by World Rugby in 2022 after a series of clips that implied criticism of referee Wayne Barnes. That came off the back of a two-month ban in 2021 for his ‘leaked’ video criticising Nic Berry’s performance during the British and Irish Lions series.

“We particularly mentioned the behaviour of the coaches,” Galthie continued in reference to the Shape of the Game forum. “Once again, I insisted on our role as educators. We must behave with respect.

“I said that I did not understand other coaches who allow themselves to question decisions, to cry scandal, to tweet. For me, it’s banned,” he added in a clear swipe at Erasmus.

“You will never hear me directly question a referee’s decision.”

Galthie seemingly thinks that it’s entirely fine to slam the referees and officials in press conferences – or he doesn’t even realise he is doing it – but don’t you dare post about it on social media.

World Rugby have not responded to his comments this week.

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