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Rugby | Rugby World Cup

Twitter-row Samoan calls ref 'racist'

The Samoan player who compared the World Cup to "slavery" was at the centre of another row on Saturday when he accused a referee of being racist and biased in an expletive-filled Twitter rant.

Centre Eliota Sapolu Fuimaono took to the micro-messaging site with an angry tirade against Welsh referee Nigel Owens and the International Rugby Board (IRB) after Samoa's 13-5 loss to South Africa, which ended their quarterfinal hopes.

Owens' Facebook page was also defaced by irate and offensive messages among more than 300 comments posted by members of the public after the game.

Sapolu Fuimaono, who mentioned that he was drinking and appeared to announce his international retirement, claimed Samoa was the victim of a conspiracy and directed fire at Owens after several other contributors criticised the referee.

"I can understand the hate!! Haha good luck u racist biased prick," tweeted the 30-year-old Sapolu Fuimaono, who plays for English club Gloucester.

"Get s.a into next round. The plan was obvious. Can't wait 2 meet irb members in public," he added.

The comments come after Sapolu Fuimaono was forced to apologise for comparing the World Cup to "slavery", "apartheid" and even the "holocaust" after Samoa had only a few days to prepare for their key game against Wales, which they lost.

Samoa have also been embroiled in controversy after winger Alesana Tuilagi was heavily fined for wearing the wrong sort of mouthguard, an incident which prompted a minor outcry in New Zealand and various offers to pay the sanction.

Samoa threatened a major upset in Friday's final pool match against defending champions South Africa but David Lemi was harshly penalised as they attacked during the second half, and fullback Paul Williams was sent off for striking a Springboks player in the face..

"wasn't about world cup today. RWC has been invalidated when they give us half the rest as the rich. It was about us v world champs," Sapolu Fuimaono tweeted.

"I'm proud to be Samoan! Irb, my bum, kiss it!" he said.

Captain Mahonri Schwalger also criticised the performance of Owens after the game, calling the refereeing "one-way".

"I thought the ref was pretty hard on us," he said after the game. "There was a lot of times when they were slowing our ball down and for me it's got to be fair on us as well and make sure he gives us a chance as well.

"I felt like it was one way, but we can't change the result, it's done."

Owens admitted on Saturday that it was the hardest game he had overseen, but added that he had "no regrets". He did not mention the stream of vitriolic messages on his Facebook page.

"That was the hardest game I have ever had to ref. Did my best and no regrets. Will review later," Owens tweeted.

Samoa's team manager Matthew Vaea Tagitau, the IRB and tournament organisers were not immediately available for comment about the latest outburst.

But Samoa's media spokesman Fatu Tauafiafi said the squad was now dispersed with many players heading home, adding that it would be up to the IRB to investigate.

However, he said New Zealand television channel TV3 had raised NZ$10 000 (US$7,600) to pay Tuilagi's mouthguard fine, while reports said the equipment's manufacturer had also offered to contribute.

Samoa had stopped short of banning players from Twitter after Fuimaono's "holocaust" rant, with assistant coach Tom Coventry saying, "we try not to gag anyone".


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