Sebastien Vahaamahina has been handed a six-week ban following his red card in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final between France and Wales.

The France second row was dismissed for inexplicably elbowing Aaron Wainwright in the head in the 49th minute of Les Bleus' 20-19 defeat last Sunday.

His indiscipline proved costly as Wales overturned a 19-10 deficit to prevail and set up a semi-final with South Africa.

Vahaamahina announced his retirement from international rugby a day later, but he will now not be able to play for Clermont Auvergne until December 16 after a decision made by an independent judicial committee following a disciplinary hearing he attended via videoconference on Thursday.

A World Rugby statement read: "Vahaamahina admitted the act of foul play, that he had contacted his opponent's head intentionally and accepted that it warranted a red card.

"The committee considered that the terms of High Tackle Sanction Framework were relevant and accepted the player's admission that: There was a strike, there was direct contact between the player's elbow and Aaron Wainwright's jaw, there are no mitigating factors.

"The committee upheld the red card and considered this to be top-end offending. This resulted in a starting point of a 10-week suspension.

"Taking into account the mitigating factors that are considered in relation to sanction, including the player's early and full acknowledgment of his conduct and prompt apology to his opponent, the committee reduced the 10-week entry point by four weeks, resulting in a sanction of six weeks."

Vahaamahina's first opportunity to make his return will be in the Top 14 clash with Toulon on December 21. He will miss Clermont's first four Champions Cup matches as a result of his suspension.

Jaco Peyper has not been selected to referee a Rugby World Cup semi-final after a photo emerged of him with Wales fans apparently mocking France's sent-off lock Sebastien Vahaamahina.

The South African, who was overseeing his 50th Test, dismissed Vahaamahina during Wales' incident-packed 20-19 last-eight win over Les Bleus for elbowing Aaron Wainwright.

France coach Jacques Brunel and Wales counterpart Warren Gatland backed the decision but the picture, which was widely circulated on social media, drew criticism and was investigated by World Rugby.

On Tuesday, it was confirmed Welshman Nigel Owens will officiate England versus New Zealand on Saturday, while France's Jerome Garces is the man in the middle for Wales against South Africa a day later.

A World Rugby statement said Peyper has apologised.

"World Rugby can confirm that the match officials selection committee did not consider Jaco Peyper for selection this weekend," the release read.

"Peyper recognises that a picture of him with Wales fans, which appeared on social media after the Wales versus France quarter-final, was inappropriate and he has apologised."

France lock Sebastien Vahaamahina has announced his retirement from Test rugby, just 24 hours after he received a costly red card in his country's Rugby World Cup quarter-final loss to Wales.

Les Bleus' run in Japan ended on Sunday when Warren Gatland's team edged a tight encounter 20-19.

France were leading 19-10 when Vahaamahina was dismissed nine minutes into the second half for elbowing Aaron Wainwright, and the 14 men were unable to hang on as Wales avenged their 2011 semi-final loss to the same opponents.

Vahaamahina, 28, has now sent a message to Eurosport Rugbyrama saying he is walking away from international rugby, a decision he claims he reached earlier this year.

"It's hard, very hard for me today - especially because, as I have planned for several months, it was my last match with the national team," he said.

"I hadn't made a public announcement of my retirement but the people impacted by the decision have known since the summer: [France coach] Jacques Brunel, [Clermont Auvergne coach] Franck Azema and several of the players.

"I wanted to have the best possible match and tournament to finish on... perhaps I wanted it too much. My desire and my aggression got the better of me."

The lock received his marching orders from referee Jaco Peyper, who is now the subject of a World Rugby investigation after he appeared to mock the man he dismissed in a picture taken with Wales fans.

A photo circulated on social media of Peyper with his elbow raised to a fan's chin.

France Rugby Federation vice-president Serge Simon demanded an explanation from the South African official.

He tweeted: "This photo if it is true is shocking and explanations will be necessary."

World Rugby confirmed they are looking into the matter.

"World Rugby is aware of a picture on social media of referee Jaco Peyper with a group of Wales fans taken after last night's [Sunday's] quarter-final between Wales and France in Oita," the governing body said.

"It would be inappropriate to comment further while we are establishing the facts."

World Rugby has opened an investigation after referee Jaco Peyper appeared to mock Sebastien Vahaamahina in a photo with Wales fans.

Peyper, taking charge of his 50th Test, sent Vahaamahina off in Wales' dramatic Rugby World Cup triumph over Les Bleus on Sunday, with the lock dismissed for elbowing Aaron Wainwright.

Though head coaches Jacques Brunel and Warren Gatland backed Peyper's decision, the South African official is now at the centre of an investigation after he posed for a photo with a group of Wales supporters.

In the picture, which was circulated on social media, Peyper has his elbow raised into a fan's chin.

France Rugby Federation vice-president Serge Simon took to his official Twitter account to demand an explanation.

He posted: "This photo if it is true is shocking and explanations will be necessary."

World Rugby confirmed they are looking into the matter.

"World Rugby is aware of a picture on social media of referee Jaco Peyper with a group of Wales fans taken after last night's [Sunday's] quarter-final between Wales and France in Oita," the governing body said.

"It would be inappropriate to comment further while we are establishing the facts."

For the majority of Sunday's World Cup quarter-final with Wales, France were in control thanks to a performance that belied the reports of discord in the camp.

Arguably the most unpredictable side in world rugby, Les Bleus showed the best side of themselves for so long in a contest few expected them to have the better of, against a Wales team briefly ranked number one in the world this year.

France were aggressive, fluent with ball in hand and produced the kind of aesthetically pleasing play that is synonymous with their country's finest in full flight.

As Virimi Vakatawa stepped past Josh Navidi and found Romain Ntamack, who then fed Antoine Dupont to set up Charles Ollivon to cruise under the posts and put France 12-0 up, even the most ardent of Wales fan will have feared a vintage display from the side that controversially denied them in the semi-finals in 2011.

Even after an error allowed Adam Wainwright to get Wales on the board, France remained the superior outfit and, despite a pair of missed kicks from Ntamack, it would have been tough to find too many tipping Warren Gatland's men to make a comeback akin to the one they produced at the Stade de France in the Six Nations this year.

However, France are as well known for their meltdowns as they are for their free-flowing style, and it was a moment of madness nine minutes into the second half that ultimately proved crucial in condemning them to a heart-breaking 20-19 defeat.

Guilhem Guirado was recalled to the starting XV for France despite rumours of a bust-up with coach Jacques Brunel, and the atmosphere in the dressing room is unlikely to have been a pleasant one after Sebastien Vahaamahina made a telling contribution to his own side's downfall.

It is unclear whether we will ever be able to understand the method behind the back-row's decision to launch a swinging elbow into the side of Wainwright's head, and his dismissal will go down in World Cup infamy as it proved the turning point in a French failure.

To their credit, Brunel's men held up well despite their man disadvantage and still led 19-13 going into the final six minutes.

Yet Tomos Williams ripped the ball from Ollivon's grasp yards out from the France line and it was collected by Justin Tipuric before Ross Moriarty, whose yellow card preceded the Vakatawa try, turned from villain to hero by scoring the winning try.

France may feel aggrieved, with the try awarded by the TMO despite the suggestion the ball went forward after being stolen from Ollivon, while many in the Wales camp will feel luck has evened out after Sam Warburton's contentious red card in the semi eight years ago.

Brunel's men only have themselves to blame, though. While the crucial try was questionable, Wales' turnaround was aided by handling errors, missed kicks and an inexplicable moment of gross indiscipline.

Consistent also-ran in the Six Nations, France have lurched from one disappointment to the next since their agonising defeat to New Zealand in the 2011 World Cup final.

Gatland conceded the best team lost in Oita, but succinctly summed up the continued issue for a side that now infuriate more than they inspire.

"I thought France definitely improved since the Six Nations," said Gatland. "Losing becomes a habit, but so does winning and we are in that habit at the moment."

France are firmly in the losing habit and, with the next World Cup to be held on home soil, they have four years to change that by channelling the fire that can make them such an attractive side to watch into consistency, rather than self-inflicted collapses.

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