WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The International Rugby Board has denied it ordered Samoa to exclude a player from its squad for the Pacific Nations Cup because of his history of controversial Twitter posts.
Center Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu was banned for six months after last year’s Rugby World Cup for a Twitter post that described Welsh referee Nigel Owens, who worked Samoa’s match against South Africa, as racist and biased.
The 23-test veteran had been censured after an earlier Twitter comment that likened Samoa’s World Cup schedule to slavery, apartheid and the Holocaust.
In naming his Pacific Nations Cup squad, coach Stephan Betham said the IRB had instructed Samoa not to select Fuimaono-Sapolu. But the IRB responded on its Twitter account that Betham’s claims were disappointing and untrue.