Samoan Rugby
IRB comes out fighting over Fuimaono-Sapolu omission
ESPN Staff
May 16, 2012
Samoa's Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu speaks to the media following the adjournment of his judicial hearing, Vero Centre, Auckland, New Zealand, October 5, 2011
Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu found himself in the headlines during the World Cup © Getty Images
Related Links
Players/Officials: Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu | Mo Schwalger
Tournaments/Tours: Pacific Nations Cup
Teams: Samoa

The International Rugby Board has come out fighting over Samoa coach Stephen Betham's claim that Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu was omitted from the national squad due to a request from the sport's governing body.

Fuimaono-Sapolu was in the headlines during the 2011 World Cup for his outspoken views on the IRB and referee Nigel Owens. The Samoan centre escaped suspension but was warned by the IRB over his future conduct.

Explaining the Fuimaono-Sapolu's absence from his 35-man squad for the Pacific Nations Cup and their Test with Scotland, coach Betham told the Observer: "The International Rugby Board has ruled against Eliota playing rugby in IRB-run tournaments. It was made known in a letter."

However, the IRB has commented on their Twitter account denying this and have responded saying: "Eliota Sapolu not banned or ineligible for IRB or international matches. Comments by Samoa head coach disappointing and untrue".

Fuimaono-Sapolu was not the only surprising omission from the squad with skipper Mahonri Schwalger also missing. Betham claimed Schwalger's omission was due to his age, but the hooker claims that it is due to other reasons.

Schwalger criticised the management of the national side in the wake of their early exit from the World Cup and knew that it "would cost me my international career".

These Tweets were later removed by Fuimaono-Sapolu

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