Samoa PM: Idiot rugby refs!
Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi (File)
Wellington - Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has welcomed an International Rugby Board (IRB) investigation into his comments during a recent radio broadcast in which he said hitting a Test referee with a rock might be justified.
The IRB has written to the Samoa Rugby Union, of which Malielegaoi is chairperson, requesting "urgent clarification" of the comments which, it said, "may be in breach of IRB regulations governing the global game."
During his regular weekly program on Samoa's Radio 2AP, Malielegaoi described the officials who controlled the June 23 Test match between Samoa and Scotland as "idiots" and suggested the Samoa team suffered racial discrimination.
Malielegaoi said "if the siren sounds and the referee continues the match unnecessarily, then a rock hitting his head would be justified."
Scotland beat Samoa 17-16 in the Test in Apia with a try in the first minute of injury time. Samoa were also denied a try when a touch judge determined one of their players, who would have scored, had put a foot in touch.
Malielegaoi did not attend the match but commented on the decisions during his radio show, saying the safety of referees controlling Test matches in Apia in future could not be guaranteed.
The Samoa Observer newspaper on Saturday published an e-mail from the IRB's head of communications, Dominic Rumbles, which said Malielegaoi's comments may be in breach of the world body's conduct regulations.
"Regarding the alleged comments, the IRB has written to the (Samoa Rugby Union) requesting urgent clarification," Rumbles said.
"There will be no other public comment until the information requested has been received."
Malielegaoi told the newspaper he welcomed the investigation.
"I am happy that they have responded," he said. "The whole purpose of my comments was to draw the attention of the IRB and also those boys who are in charge of selecting referees.
"I wanted that the attention be drawn to the consistent breaches when it comes to Manu Samoa (the Samoa national team)."
Malielegaoi said referees are not "gods that whatever they say should be allowed to hold.
"You cannot continue to ignore these things, especially after strings and strings and strings of breaches against Manu Samoa."
If an IRB investigation finds a case to answer, it could summon Malielegaoi to appear before a judicial hearing to face a charge of misconduct.
If found guilty, he could receive a fine, a warning or a reprimand but if the Samoa Rugby Union is found at fault it could lose the right to host international matches.