World Cup: Twitter tirade disciplinary hearing delayed

Samoan rugby player Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu's disciplinary hearing over his Twitter activity has been postponed. Photo / Dean Purcell
Samoan rugby player Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu's disciplinary hearing over his Twitter activity has been postponed. Photo / Dean Purcell

A disciplinary hearing over a Twitter tirade from outspoken Samoan rugby player Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu has been adjourned until October 15.

Fuimaono-Sapolu called Welsh referee Nigel Owens a racist and complained about unfair treatment following Samoa's 13-5 defeat to South Africa in the Rugby World Cup last Friday.

The centre was yesterday suspended from all rugby after he failed to turn up to a World Cup judicial hearing in Auckland.

He turned up to the rescheduled hearing at the Vero Centre in Auckland at 2pm this afternoon.

After an hour-and-a-half of deliberations, his case was adjourned until October 15.

In front of a group of singing supporters, he defended his Twitter comments, saying Manu Samoa had been treated unfairly throughout the World Cup.

He hoped his tweets had shone a spotlight on how minnows were treated at the Rugby World Cup.

"It's a stand. I'm saying look at this, look at this. [The IRB] are saying this is okay to treat people like this."

Fuimaono-Sapolu said he would not be tweeting about the Rugby World Cup any more.

He was booked to return to Samoa on Friday but planned to attend the rescheduled disciplinary hearing.

Earlier today, he sent tweets complaining he had been given just two hours to read 600 pages of hearing documents from the IRB.

"How can I counter this when I dont even have the time to read a third of it?"

The Samoa Rugby Union said it was ``extremely disappointed'' with Fuimaono-Sapolu's actions, saying it had made every effort to contact him to let him know about the charges and the hearing details.

"Contact was attempted via telephone and social media and attempts were made to determine his location. Despite repeated contact attempts, his appearance on New Zealand television and his apparent location in Auckland, the union and the team are yet to hear from Eliota since the team dispersed in the weekend.''

The team said it was continuing to try to contact Fuimaono-Sapolu.

The union distanced itself from Fuimaono-Sapolu's comments, saying they were "totally unrepresentative'' and "exceptionally disappointing by a senior squad member who is supposed to be an ambassador for Samoan Rugby''.

Fuimaono-Sapolu yesterday defended his Twitter comments, saying referees always seemed to make bad calls when Manu Samoa played.

"We always get bad referees, we always get the stereotype that we don't know how to play rugby, the stereotype that we're thugs, we're violent, we're stupid _ we always get that,'' he said.

Asked if he was prepared to keep pushing his message even if that cost him his career, Fuimaono-Sapolu said: "Yes, absolutely.''

"Should that happen, then it happens.''

He said the whole idea is that the next generation is not taught to treat another person badly.

Fuimaono-Sapolu denied his message had been lost because he'd used over-the-top language like "kiss my bum''.

"When you are treated like crap, when you are treated like shit, then something like that is nothing, you know. If you look at the substance of all the other tweets, then why can't I just have a little crack like that?''


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