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Dublin: 10 °C Wednesday 20 February, 2019

Six-month suspended ban for tweeting Samoan

Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu faces a significant playing ban unless he apologies for a tweet he wrote about Welsh referee Nigel Owens.

Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu
Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu
Image: Natacha Pisarenko/AP/Press Association Images

SERIAL TWEETER ELIOTA Fuimaono Sapolu has been handed a six-month suspended playing ban and ordered to apologise to referee Nigel Owens following a disciplinary hearing in New Zealand.

The Gloucester star has been the focus of much attention throughout the Rugby World Cup after first comparing his nation’s fixture list to the Holocaust and then labelling Owens a “racist prick” after Samoa’s defeat to South Africa.

Misconduct charges were upheld by Independent Judicial Officer Jeff Blackett (England) on Saturday, who decided that there was “no evidence” the referee’s actions were biased and that the comment could affect Owens’ “integrity and reputation both as a referee and as a man”.

The statement from RWCL added: “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.”

Fuimaono Sapolu has been told to apologise to Nigel Owens, complete at least 100 hours of rugby-related community work in Samoa and attend a referee course within the coming three months. If he does not, his suspension will be activated “immediately”.

The player has 36 hours to appeal once he has received written notice of the decision.

READ – Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu’s punishment upheld by the IRB

READ – Beale ruled out, Ashley-Cooper to start at 15

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