RFU gives Fuimaono-Sapolu three-week ban
November 8, 2011
Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu has been suspended © Getty Images
Gloucester's Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu has been hit with a three-week suspension after being found guilty by the RFU on two of three charges of "conduct prejudicial to the interests of the game".
Fuimaono-Sapolu's club future remains in some doubt after a disciplinary panel found the Samoan guilty relating to comments made on his Twitter account. Fuimaono-Sapolu used the social networking tool to criticise Welsh referee Nigel Owens during the recent World Cup.
It was expected a guilty verdict would result in the six-month suspended sentence handed down by the IRB last month to be invoked. However, the three-man RFU panel gave the player credit for pleading guilty, deciding instead to hand down a three-week ban.
"Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu of Gloucester Rugby was tonight banned for three weeks after being found guilty of two charges of conduct prejudicial to the interests of the Game contrary to Rule 5.12 of the Rules of the Rugby Football Union," an RFU statement read. "The panel is keen to stress that this decision stands alone and that it is a matter for the IRB to determine whether the actions of Fuimaono-Sapolu constituted a breach of the conditions of that sanction.
"The panel found that Fuimaono-Sapolu made, or adopted from other users of Twitter, critical or sarcastic comments about the rugby disciplinary process and made, or adopted from other users of Twitter, critical comments about the Rugby World Cup and the International Rugby Board on his Twitter account."
Fuimaono-Sapolu's contract with Gloucester expires at the end of the season, and the player has previously expressed his desire to have the deal terminated should a six-month ban be handed down.
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