South African referee Jaco Peyper has sparked anger after posing for a photo with Wales fans in which he appears to mimic the elbow that led to Sebastien Vahaamahina's red card on the way to France's 20-19 quarter-final capitulation at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
The South African official dismissed the hulking lock in Oita on Sunday after video replays showed him smashing his elbow into the face of Welsh flanker Aaron Wainwright early in the second half with France leading by nine points.
Vahaamahina's rush of blood changed the course of the game and Wales hit back to win 20-19 and book their place in the last four, where they will face South Africa.
Vahaamahina distraught after match Fighting back tears, the lock told his team mates in the changing room: "I think I completely lost my head. Frankly it's indefensible."
But France fans reacted with astonishment after Peyper was seen smiling for the camera alongside beer-drinking Wales fans with his right elbow raised to the chin of one of them, seeming to poke fun at the sickening incident on Sunday night.
There were howls of protests from Twitter users slamming Peyper's judgement, with several calling it "shameful", "disturbing" or "stupid" – and calling for the 39-year-old to be stood down for the rest of the World Cup or even sanctioned.
Spotlight on referees Earlier in the World Cup, New Zealand referee Ben O'Keeffe courted controversy after footage emerged of him offering a "low-five" hand slap during a pool game between Australia and Fiji.
After a try by full-back Kini Murimurivalu to extend Fiji's lead over the Wallabies to 21-12, O'Keeffe extended his right arm and the Fijian duly obliged.