Samoa Centre At It Again
Samoa's Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu has again put himself on a collision course with rugby's overlords after another Twitter tirade, this time for not acknowledging his country's worst natural disaster.
"Our dead not good enough" he said in a message sent Thursday, noting there was a minute's silence before the United States' World Cup game against Ireland on the anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks.
Sapolu, provisionally suspended from all rugby for calling Welsh referee Nigel Owen "racist", criticised the lack of a memorial for Samoa when they played on the anniversary of a destructive tsunami which claimed 143 lives.
"Minute of silence for USA for 9/11, nothing for Samoa for tsunami. Both games played anniversary days. Our dead not good enough."
However, an International Rugby Board (IRB) spokesman told AFP on Thursday they had acknowledged the tsunami, saying: "As agreed with the Samoa Rugby Union, the date was respectfully commemorated with a public address immediately prior to kick-off and also the wearing of black armbands to remember those who tragically lost their lives."
Sapolu has been in hot water with the IRB for his outbursts throughout the tournament, which began when he said his side was being exploited with a tough schedule which he likened to "slavery" and "the Holocaust".
He escaped punishment then when Samoan officials apologised, but was suspended from all rugby this week when he failed to appear at a disciplinary hearing over his outburst about Owens.
The criticism of the referee followed a 13-5 defeat by South Africa that ended Samoa's involvement in the World Cup.
The Gloucester midfielder showed up at a reconvened hearing on Wednesday and the IRB agreed to his request to have proceedings rescheduled until October 15 but said his suspension would stand until then.
He was also told "to refrain from further comment on the case" but the directive did not appear to include remarks about other issues.
Samoa played South Africa on the anniversary of the September 29, 2009, tsumami which pounded into the Pacific island nation, killing 143 people, and also claiming 34 lives in American Samoa and nine in Tonga.
Sapolu told reporters before that game how the devastation had left an indelible mark on a tight-knit community.
"We think about that before every game. We think about that every day. That is part of our history," he said.