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Dublin: 19 °C Tuesday 22 July, 2014

Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu’s punishment upheld by the IRB

The centre’s ban from rugby-related activity will remain in place until his disciplinary hearing reconvenes on the 15th of October.

The Samoan centre arrives for his IRB disciplinary hearing.
The Samoan centre arrives for his IRB disciplinary hearing.
Image: Natacha Pisarenko/AP/Press Association Images

MANU SAMOA’S ARCH controversialist, Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, attended a second IRB disciplinary hearing into his online activities today.

After failing to attend an initial exploratory meeting last week, an outcome he has since blamed on the ruling body’s failure to keep him adequately informed of its intentions, the player received an indefinite ban from rugby-related activities.

Today’s hearing, though Sapolu was present, was adjourned until October 15th, pending a more detailed investigation of the player’s actions.

Though a legal scholar himself (he has a degree in Law & Finance), Sapolu was less than impressed with the two hours he was alotted as preparation for what was expected to be a critical interrogation.

The Gloucester star, who was born in Samoa but has lived in both New Zealand and England, caused a furore on Twitter last week when he compared the treatment of tier-two nations at the Rugby World Cup to the persecution of Jews during the Holocaust. Days later he referred to Welsh referee Nigel Owens as a “racist prick”.

In an effort to free his arguments from the limitations of 140 characters, the Samaon international appeared last night on Campbell Live (a New Zealand chat show) to give his side of the story, and proved surprisingly articulate on the subject of rugby’s instituional prejudice:

“The courts have a lot of trust and actually do try and find justice, I’m not too sure about these guys. If you can’t work out that seven days is not the same as three days off then there are some screws missing. It’s not just us, a lot of the Tier 2 teams have played four fixtures in two weeks. We have had the mouthguard issue, Scotland have been treated like rubbish, England are allowed to cheat and nothing happens; there’s so much injustice that has been dealt out there and I’d struggle to have trust in them.”

Most tellingly, when asked if he’d place his principles above his international career, Sapolu answered in the affirmative.

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