Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Samoan escapes penalty for Twitter tirade

A Samoan rugby player who compared his lack of rest with the Holocaust will not face disciplinary action from the International Rugby Union.

And Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu continued his rants on Twitter yesterday, saying he stood by his comments that the cup schedule was unjust for giving tier one countries a longer rest between games than tier two countries.

"It's obvious the IRB are unjust. Wales got 7 days, we got 3. Unfair treatment, like slavery, like the holocaust, like apartheid. F*** u.

"I wonder how would these tier 1 teams function with only three days' rest. IRB stop exploiting my people. Please, all we ask is fairness. If they get a week, give us a week. Simple."

The comments were posted after the Wales versus Samoa Rugby World Cup match, which Samoa lost.

It is understood team management met the IRB late yesterday to discuss the issue.

Fuimaono-Sapolu continued to defend his comments on Twitter and fielded several comments from people who did not agree with his comparison.

"C'mon guys, obviously [rugby] does not even come close to what Hitler did! There is still injustice and exploitation in this instance," he said.

Another tweet said: "Culling of Maori, Jews, Africans was all atrocious. They started with a thought that one class is better than another. Tier 1 & 2."

Later he wrote: "Delete the analogies. Apologies. Issues of injustice [in rugby] remain."

Auckland radio station Radio Samoa also had the Twitter rant as its talkback topic.

Many callers said the player had a valid point about the tournament scheduling and said it was unfair that some players got a week's rest, while others had three days.

However, his use of swear words did not go down well, with many people calling on Fuimaono-Sapolu to be humble in defeat.

Others said that it would have been more respectable had the point been made before the Samoan team took on the Welsh, rather than bringing it up after losing.

International Rugby Union spokesman Dominic Rumbles yesterday defended the schedule, saying it was based on a number of factors.

"Central factors considered were fan appeal, spread of matches across New Zealand, broadcast and commercial considerations as well as player welfare."

Five teams had 14 or fewer rest days, which was down from seven at the 2007 Rugby World Cup and eight at the 2003 tournament, he said.

"We have worked to ensure no team has two three-day periods in a row as well as minimising travel."


* I can't explain what I mean but I understand where people are coming from. Like I can't differentiate the two!

* It's not like I was throwing dwarfs around lol.

* C'mon guys, obviously rugby does not even come close to what Hitler did! There is still injustice and exploitation in this instance.

* It's odd sanctioning someone for pointing out injustice. God would hold me in contempt if I didn't. Whatever they do, I'm not fussed.

- NZ Herald

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