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The Herald on Sunday editorial

Herald on Sunday editorial: Sorry Samoa, but life's not fair


Barely a week ago, New Zealanders would have had no idea who Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu was. Perhaps many still won't recognise the moniker today, but if we add the words "Samoan tweeter" to the mix, it should become clear.

The Manu Samoa World Cup player launched a one-man war against the International Rugby Board. He shot his mouth off to every media outlet that took the time to call him after unleashing first on Twitter and then to the Herald on Sunday.

Fuimaono-Sapolu railed against the refs and the $10,000 fine imposed on another Samoan player, Alesana Tuilagi, and his younger brother Manu who plays for England, for wearing a branded mouthguard.

Admittedly, the fine was over the top and referee Nigel Owens did make a couple of glaring errors in the match with South Africa. Was that because of preconceptions over the way the islanders play? Who knows.

Where the player needs reining in quickly is his thoughts on the tournament format. Teams like Samoa, Tonga and Georgia faced quick turnarounds after match days, sometimes as short as four days between games. It meant the top tier nations were fresher. Fair? Of course not - but then life never is.

To give everyone the same time off would hurt the tournament. It would mean reducing pool sizes and changing the playoff format, or extending pool play a week.

The beauty of midweek matches was that the minnows got their time in the sun. Broadcasters and viewers were naturally more interested in the big weekend matches - England-Argentina, Ireland-Australia and the All Blacks-France.

These put bums on seats and sparked the tournament into life. Would anyone go to see Samoa play Namibia in Nelson if the All Blacks played two hours later? Would the tournament have gained momentum if all the games were on the weekends? Almost certainly not.

Fuimaono-Sapolu may think his side was sacrificed - but if so, it was for the greater good.

- Herald on Sunday

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