Rugby World Cup 2011

Sapolu banned for Tweet rant

2011-10-04 09:07
Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu (Getty Images)

Auckland - Samoa's Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu was banned from playing rugby at all levels on Tuesday after calling Welsh referee Nigel Owens "racist" in a Twitter message.

The centre, who in an earlier post said tournament organisers were guilty of "slavery" for the way they treated teams like Samoa, failed to attend a disciplinary hearing in Auckland on Tuesday and received a "provisional suspension" from all grades of rugby.

This was caused by his latest outburst, which followed Samoa's 13-5 loss to champions South Africa last week - a defeat that ended their quarter-final hopes.

Sapolu claimed Samoa were the victims of a conspiracy and slammed Owens after several other contributors to the Welshman's Facebook page criticised the referee.

"(Sic) I can understand the hate!! Haha good luck u racist biased prick," tweeted the 30-year-old Sapolu, who plays for English club Gloucester.

"(Sic) Get s.a (South Africa) into next round. The plan was obvious. Can't wait 2 meet irb (International Rugby Board) members in public," he added.

The comments come after Sapolu was forced to apologise for comparing the World Cup to "slavery" and even the "holocaust" after Samoa had only a few days to prepare for their key game against Wales, which they lost.

A statement issued by World Cup organisers on Tuesday said judicial officer Jeff Blackett of England had ruled that due to Sapolu's failure to attend the hearing, he would adjourn the case to an appropriate time when he would face the charges against him.

But, significantly, it added: "Pending the holding of such hearing he ordered that Mr Fuimaono Sapolu be provisionally suspended from all participation in the game of Rugby Union."

The statement said the Samoa Rugby Union accepted the charge of misconduct against them for failure to control Sapolu.

However, the question of what sanction, if any, the Samoa Rugby Union will face, will be addressed at the same hearing as that of Sapolu himself.

Samoa were also involved in controversy after wing Alesana Tuilagi was heavily fined for wearing a mouthguard displaying the name of a company that is not sponsoring the World Cup.

The Pacific Islanders threatened an upset against South Africa on Friday in a match where Samoa fullback Paul Williams was sent off.


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