Rugby World Cup 2011

Sapolu's hearing adjourned

2011-10-05 10:29
Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu (File)

Auckland - Banned Samoa centre Eliota Sapolu Fuimaono's disciplinary hearing has been adjourned until October 15 after the player asked for more time to prepare his defence against misconduct charges stemming from a Twitter rant against a referee.

Sapolu Fuimaono labelled Welsh referee Nigel Owens "biased' and a "racist" on the social networking website in the wake of his side's 13-5 Rugby World Cup loss to South Africa on Friday, and was banned from all rugby after he failed to show up to a scheduled hearing on Tuesday.

Although the hearing was to have resumed on Wednesday, it was adjourned again to allow the player to prepare his defence and attend a government function, World Cup organisers said.

"The adjournment was accepted on the grounds that the player requested more time to consider the charges against him and to accommodate a commitment to attend a Samoa Government function welcoming back the Samoa team over the weekend," organisers said in a statement.

The 30-year-old had said on Tuesday he had not been informed of when the hearing would take place and a new hearing was scheduled for Wednesday, though that was then rescheduled at his request.

The Samoa Rugby Union (SRU) issued a statement earlier on Wednesday distancing themselves from his comments and saying they had tried unsuccessfully to contact the player by various means to inform him of the hearing.

"The SRU supports the RWC 2011 disciplinary process and urges Eliota to make contact with the team immediately," it read.

"Furthermore the Union would like to state that comments made by Eliota on New Zealand television are totally unrepresentative of the Samoa Rugby Union and the team and are exceptionally disappointing by a senior squad member who is supposed to be an ambassador for Samoan Rugby."

Sapolu Fuimaono, a trained lawyer, said in a television interview on Tuesday that the International Rugby Board had been "blatantly unfair" in their treatment of tier two nations and he did not think he would get a fair hearing from them.

"I'm more likely to get an unfair hearing than a fair one," he added.

The Samoan had previously apologised and escaped punishment for an earlier outburst on Twitter in which he compared the scheduling of Samoa's World Cup matches to the holocaust. Organisers said he had been issued with a formal warning for that initial outburst.


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