Sapolu to quit rugby

Samoa centre Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu has responded to the outcome of his disciplinary hearing by saying that he doesn’t want to play rugby any longer.

The Sunday Star Times reported that Sapolu was sanctioned for criticising the International Rugby Board. Following the outcome of Saturday’s hearing, Sapolu tweeted: ‘I do not want to play rugby anymore. One thing is for sure, my children definitely wont be.’

The IRB agreed to suspend Sapolu’s six-month ban providing that he kept his emotions and opinions in check over the next two years. Rugby’s ruling body also demanded that he attend a refereeing course, do 100 hours of community service and apologise to referee Nigel Owens who he accused of being racist and biased following the Pool D clash between Samoa and South Africa.

Given Sapolu’s most recent tweet about quitting rugby, it’s unlikely that he will meet these demands.

On Saturday, independent Judicial Officer Judge Jeff Blackett (England) heard detailed evidence from the player and his representatives regarding alleged breaches of the Rugby World Cup 2011 Tournament Disciplinary Programme and the RWC/IRB Code of Conduct relating to comments made about Owens via the public social media network Twitter.

Having considered all the evidence the Judicial Officer determined that the charges laid by Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) in respect of misconduct by the player for adverse comments against Owens were upheld. All of the charges relating to breaches of the RWC/IRB Code of Conduct arising from such comments were also all upheld.

The Judicial Officer determined that the comments about Owens made by Sapolu impugn his integrity and reputation both as a referee and as a man. The Judicial Officer recognised that the player might have been angry or emotional when making his initial comments via Twitter, however it did not justify his offensive behaviour towards the referee.

Contrary to the player’s submissions, the Judicial Officer determined that there was ‘absolutely no evidence that the referee was biased in the sense that he deliberately favoured one side or the other. To suggest that Nigel Owens is racist against Samoans is also completely inappropriate.’