Gloucester tight-lipped on Fuimaono-Sapolu case
October 5, 2011
Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu has sparked controversy with his online attacks on the IRB and Nigel Owens © Getty Images
Gloucester have announced that they will not comment on Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu's provisional suspension from all levels of rugby until after the centre's disciplinary hearing on October 15.
The Samoan international was hit the with ban by the International Rugby Board (IRB) after failing to attend a hearing in Auckland on Tuesday at which he was to have answered a charge of misconduct relating to comments made online about referee Nigel Owens.
Fuimaono-Sapolu subsequently claimed that he had not been informed of the hearing and a second session was arranged for Wednesday only to be promptly adjourned until Saturday week to allow the player sufficient time to prepare his defence and also honour an outstanding commitment to attend a government-organised homecoming party for the Samoan team.
With the Fuimaono-Sapolu's future in the game still unclear, Gloucester were moved to issue the following statement on Wednesday afternoon:
"Gloucester Rugby has this morning learned that Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu's Rugby World Cup disciplinary hearing has been adjourned until Saturday October 15th.
"The disciplinary hearing is an IRB matter which relates to Eliota's time with Samoa participating in Rugby World Cup 2011. Therefore, it would be inappropriate for Gloucester Rugby to make any statement while the disciplinary process is still active.
"Gloucester Rugby will be making no further comment on the matter until the outcomes of the hearing are known in full and the club's management have had the opportunity to talk to Eliota in person rather than rely on information published in the media."
Fuimaono-Sapolu, angered by Samoa having just three full days to prepare for their crucial Rugby World Cup Pool D clash with Wales while their opponents had the benefit of seven, sparked controversy when he took to Twitter to compare the IRB's treatment of his nation to "slavery, the holocaust and apartheid". However, he avoided sanction by the game's governing body after apologising for his comments.
However, he launched another online attack in the wake of Samoa's defeat by South Africa last Friday, labelling match referee Owens, who had sent off Samoa fullback Paul Williams, "racist" and "biased".
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