Referee Jaco Peyper shows a red card to France's Sebastien Vahaamahina during the Rugby World Cup quarterfinal against Wales. Photo: Christophe Ena/AP Photo

TOKYO -  South African referee Jaco Peyper could be seeing red again from World Rugby after a photograph has emerged showing him with Welsh fans appearing to be mocking French lock Sebastien Vahaamahina.

Vahaamahina saw red and was sent off the field by Peyper after throwing an elbow at Wales' Aaron Wainwright as France let a 12-point lead slip to lose in the quarterfinals in Oita, Japan, on Sunday.

Since the match, a picture of Peyper with Welsh fans has been shared on social media.

In the picture Peyper appears to be copying Vahaamahina’s act by putting his elbow in the face of one of the fans. 

One of the Welsh fans is also smiling as he puts his elbow on Peyper's face.

France Rugby vice-president Serge Simon said if the photo was true, it would be ‘shocking’.

World Rugby has announced that it is establishing the facts around the photo.

"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) quarterfinal between Wales and France in Oita," the governing body said in a statement.

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

African News Agency (ANA)