World Rugby says that it is "establishing the facts" about a picture of referee Jaco Peyper which emerged on social media on Sunday.
The photo appears to show the South African referee posing with a group of Wales supporters while mocking the circumstances which saw France second row Sebastien Vahaamahina red carded during a World Cup quarter-final on Sunday.
Vahaamahina was sent off in the 49th minute of the game which Wales won 20-19. France were been leading 19-10 and primed to score another try before the lock's moment of madness which saw him strike Wales backrow Aaron Wainwright with his elbow during a maul.
Peyer was the referee who issued the card to Vahaamahina.
France Rugby vice president Serge Simon tweeted that if the photo is real, "explanations will be necessary".
Cette photo si elle est vraie est choquante et des explications seront nécessaires.
— Serge Simon (@DrSergeSIMON) October 20, 2019
In a statement World Rugby said:
"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) quarter-final between Wales and France in Oita.
"It would be inappropriate to comment further while we are establishing the facts."
Jaco Peyper dans un bel hommage à Vahaamahina. Photo de Fabien Heuzé pic.twitter.com/g5vo93413s
— Arnaud Coudry (@ArnaudCoudry) October 20, 2019