Referee Ben O'Keeffe responds to Antoine Dupont's criticism - Ruck

Referee Ben O’Keeffe responds to Antoine Dupont’s criticism

Referee Ben O’Keeffe responded to Antoine Dupont’s criticism following France’s devastating exit from the Rugby World Cup.

France narrowly lost 29-28 to defending champions South Africa last weekend.

“I don’t know if the match was lost at that point, but at crucial moments, we could have had a penalty,” Dupont said.

“When you’ve gone forward 60 metres and you’re slowed down in the rucks, it’s pretty easy to whistle.

“I don’t want to sound bitter, moaning about the refereeing because we lost the match, but I’m not sure the refereeing was up to the challenge.”

O’Keeffe’s response:

“I think it’s a space for the players and the team, you know it’s obviously a very emotional time, and I just try and respect that and keep the space,” O’Keeffe told Newshub.

“I think players, coaches, they’re going to say things whether you win or whether you lose. I know that we’re never perfect as referees, you make errors in the game but I think comments that players can make they can do that after the game and it’s kind of in the heat of the battle.

“I’m sure everything’s fine. We’ve done my review and we’ll reach out and be able to get things back on track as well but I understand obviously the sentiments after a big match like that.”

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Day jobs of the 2023 Rugby World Cup referee’s:

#1. Ben O’Keeffe

Age: 34

Nationality: New Zealand

Occupation: Eye Doctor

One of New Zealand’s six full-time referees, O’Keeffe is also a qualified doctor specialising in ophthalmology, which deals with eye health and disease. 

Ben O’Keeffe facts:

O’Keeffe became an amateur referee for the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) in 2013 having started officiating in 2008 at the age of 19

He grew up in Blenheim, New Zealand and attended Marlborough Boys’ College where he was head boy in 2006.

O’Keeffe’s brother, Michael O’Keeffe, represented New Zealand at the 2012 London Olympics in football

Ben O’Keeffe toughest player to referee: Ma’a Nonu

O’Keeffe said: “I think like Ma’a Nonu, yeah he was pretty tough. I’ve noticed over the last few years that players are just a lot bigger, a lot faster and a lot stronger. 

“I trained with the Highlanders pre-season one year and you get a real appreciation of how big, fit and hard they hit. That just remind me why I just I love refereeing – so I don’t have to take those big hits.”