Rugby World Cup 2011

No Samoa tweet ban

2011-09-23 09:51
Eliota Sapolu Fuimaono (File)

Auckland - Samoa said they had stopped short of banning players from using Twitter despite the row caused by a team member who compared the Rugby World Cup schedule to slavery, the holocaust and apartheid.

Assistant coach Tom Coventry said Samoa preferred not to "gag" players even after this week's incident, when centre Eliota Sapolu Fuimaono had to make an official apology to World Cup officials.

"We try not to gag anyone. Obviously guys have their opinions and we want them to have their opinions, it's just how they express them and some of the language they use when they are expressing themselves," Coventry said.

"I suppose he had an issue but it's just some of the words he used in his message. I think he used the word 'holocaust' and things like that, you've just got to be careful."

Sapolu Fuimaono sent out the controversial tweet after Samoa's Pool D defeat to Wales, blaming a schedule which often gives smaller countries fewer days off between games.

"Ok, it's obvious the IRB are unjust. Wales get 7 days, we get 3. Unfair treatment, like slavery, like the holocaust, like apartheid," he wrote.

The player was let off with a warning by the International Rugby Board (IRB) after a meeting with tournament officials.

"I think if he thought back about it he would have regretted some of the things he said but that's social media isn't it? That's how it works," Coventry said.

"You text something and it's gone before you think, 'I shouldn't have said that'. And the whole world can see it."

Samoa's approach contrasts with that of New Zealand, who have banned their players from using Twitter throughout the seven-week World Cup.

In May, Australia winger Digby Ioane was fined A$2 000 after he tweeted that match official Keith Brown was the "worst ref ever" after a Super Rugby game.

Coventry said the IRB had warned teams about the dangers of social media as far back as the Pacific Nations Cup (PNC) in July.

"It's been advised by the IRB to all the teams to be careful on social media. That was brought up a couple of months ago during the PNC. I think there have been a couple of issues with other players from other teams," Coventry said.

"He (Sapulo Fuimaono) wasn't speaking for Manu Samoa, he was speaking as Eliota. We were as surprised as anyone at the comments. This is what happens with these young guys and social media they just need to be careful," he added.

"Sometimes the emotion gets to them and they need to be careful."

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