Why Fuimaono-Sapolu’s message has been lost through profanity

In a modern age of trending topics and hashtags, the momentum a post on Twitter can have is impressive. Initially the process follows the same linear pattern every time, a thought turning into text and the ultimately a message for anyone and everyone to read. Personally, there have been more than a handful of occasions where I’ve tweeted something only to really, really think about what I’ve just sent and delete it. The majority of people do the same. Others stick to their guns.

Gloucester and Samoa centre Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu is no stranger to controversy over speaking his mind on Twitter, his immediate focus when tweeting being on his thoughts rather than the wider perspective and potential reaction. His tweets on Sunday are not the first time where a controversial statement he has made has been met by the stern backlash of either opposition supporters or officials. He notably criticised the playing style of last year’s Aviva Premiership champions Saracens after they defeated his side Gloucester in the semi-final, describing Saracens “risk-free rugby” as being “horribly boring”, with their fly-half Owen Farrell “putting more bombs on us than the U.S. did on Osama Bin Laden.” The analogy is wildly inappropriate, but behind it the message holds some substance.

This time round, the target of Fuimaono-Sapolu’s angst has been the IRB following Samoa’s defeat to Wales last Sunday morning, losing 17-10 after failing to hang on to a 6-10 half time lead. The centre has every right to feel aggrieved over the loss due to Samoa’s three day turnaround as opposed to the seven days Wales had to regroup after their narrow defeat to South Africa the week before.

No one disagrees with that, why would they? The Rugby World Cup is all about getting teams from all around the World together to participate on a level playing field, unlike the years in between where sides such as Japan, Canada and Namibia are forgotten about. The scheduling, designed in such a way to bring in as much of the tournament’s income as possible (TV revenue is estimated to bring in 60% of the total income for the tournament), unfortunately has left the smaller nations in a dire situation.

It is likely that the majority of fans, media and officials would merely have been glanced at the scheduling and agreed that it was an unfortunate predicament, and one that they hope would change for the next tournament in 2015. But there is no serious emotional involvement here, no petitions or real outcry from the Tier One nations to allow their fellow competitors equal time to rest and recuperate between matches. Therefore, Fuimaono-Sapolu’s outburst becomes that much more important.

Underneath the swearing there is passion, behind the insults there is an aggrieved sense of injustice. This does not excuse his crude language, either in general or directed at supporters, or his poorly expressed views. Comparing Samoa’s unfair scheduling to the injustices of Apartheid and the Holocaust is both delusional and deeply offensive, but when no action is taken as people chase desperate causes, shock is perhaps the only tool left available. Strip all that away, and you are left with the truth: “#IRB, Stop exploiting my people. Please, all we ask, is fairness. If they get a week, give us a week. Simple. #equity #justice”

Characters such as Fuimaono-Sapolu should not be excluded from Twitter or suspended from taking any further part in this Rugby World Cup. If anything, the last few days will have taught him more about the social networking website than he knew before. Behind the occasionally mis-guided passion there is a sharp wit. His comment of “It’s not like I was throwing dwarves around.” reflects this well. Unfortunately, the damage done from the now deleted words is too severe for his message to hold as much substance as it would have had it been clean. The focus now is not on changes to the system, but whether or not he should be punished. It simply augments the sadness of the situation, as his message has become lost.

by Ben Coles

10 thoughts on “Why Fuimaono-Sapolu’s message has been lost through profanity

  1. Great article Ben, I would only point out that England had to do a similar thing in the 1999 world cup and then were put to the sword when Jannie De Behr destroyed us with drop goals!

    A lot of people are criticising this shedule, but the fact is that it has to happen in order to get the tournament completed in time. If it went on a longer it would loose appeal and interest. Admittedly it does seem to be hitting just the perceived lower tier nations and there maybe something that could be done about that. However you can bet that the bigger nations (who have considerably more clout) put huge pressure on the IRB to stop this happening to them.

    I guess the only fair way to do it is build the schedule then pick names out of a hat?

  2. The thing is that lots of people are complaining, saying its not fair. What I am not seeing is solutions.

    As I see i you NEED to have he top nations at prime TV times for the revenue – revenue that is used to develop nations like Samoa. With that as a given you then have a few choices

    1) Have the smaller countries have quicker turn arounds
    2) Extend the length of the tournament – how do you think English and French clubs will react to that? Not to mention prolonged loss of interest. Midweek games help keep interest going
    3) Reduce the number of teams playing, basically kicking out a number of minnows

    None are an ideal solution, and tbh 1) is probably the best of a bad bunch

    If those that want to complain about it can come up with a reasonable solution that allows teams to take part, the right turn around AND maximises revenue I would pu good money the IRB would be interested in hearing it

  3. All fans care about is rugby and that is played on an even playing field.

    this RWC currently isnt and i dont blame EFS for saying what he did.

    Samoa are my 2nd team of the tournament and with 7 days rest they would have beaten wales.

    Samoa were the better team for 60 mins, until tiredness took over.

  4. What would you do different then Jimmy? Someone has to play the midweek games and that will inevitably lead to some playing 2 games in 5 days. There is no way around it!

    1. There’s a way around it alright. Your team should boycott the tournament and put it into rightful disrepute if they don’t amend the fixtures. That would sort the matter out quick-smart.
      Samoa shot themselves in the foot in 2 ways:
      A) They didn’t do the above
      B) They didn’t field a second string team against Namibia. Only if needed, should Samoa have used their first team players.

      Rugby is still some way off other sports in terms of it’s professionalism, and that’s part of its charm. The move to professionalism has hurt the Pacific island nations the most imo. Maybe a change in the rules so that only ‘X’ no. of foreign-born players can play for another country. Even if the AB’s (for example) have more than X foreign born players but they are all naturalized Kiwis, still enforce the quota. Thoughts? I don’t see any other way – otherwise it will just end up being like the ERC – big competition but very diverse in terms of the nationalities of players in many squads. After the 1995 WC (when rugby turned pro) this was inevitable. How much of a difference will there be in rugby between 1995 and 2019 in Japan – a heck of allot I think.

      Everyone has their favorite competition and era of rugby and it will just so happen to be the one that their favored club or national team thrives in.

        1. No, it’s not perfect. But, you have to admit – there will be no passion left in the rugby world cup the way it’s going. Even Japan (a very racist country btw) with a number of foreign players. It’s a bit of a farce if that worsens. Something needs to be done. Scotland doesn’t have a single player in the 30 with a Mc or Mac in hos name. Canada and the AB’s have more Mc’s.
          Italy has loads of Argentines. The list goes on. This is not the way to spread rugby. There needs to be some kind of quota. Here’s my difinitive solution. This is how I would do it:

          A player can only play for the national team he has spent the greatest number of years. A player CAN play for 2 different sides. If said player spends a total of 14 years of life as a permanent resident in one country, and 15 in another, he could play for the 14 yr. one for one extra year making that 15 vs. 15 and then pick one. It’s not perfect – it can’t be but there has to be some rigid settlement. I’m all on for diversity and avant-garde but it’s actually impossible for a white person to be a naturalized citizen so that alone makes it a bit of a joke.

          That’s how I’d do it – you are only eligible to play for the country you spend the most time (say at least 7-9 months of any year) Maybe 7 to be on the liberal side.

          Benefits of this system:

          1. Preserves diversity.
          2. Spreads rugby to other countries the right way! They have to be there for a long period of life, being involved in rugby at a grass roots level if possible.
          3. Obvious – maintains the passion!

          & just to show I’m not always biased against England (even though I do find u bigoted & double-standard like at times) . Here is some good footage of RWC 2003 and Robinson’s class try in that game:

          1. “it’s actually impossible for a white person to be a naturalized citizen so that alone makes it a bit of a joke. ” in Japan I mean.

            & I can’t really blame the Japanese – we’d dirty up their lovely country with our mongrel blood :)

  5. Having looked at the tourament schedule I reckon you would only need to extend the tourament by seven days in order to give every team a minimium six day turnaround but this would involve the tier one nations playing at least two games midweek which would not suit the broadcasters.
    I seem to remember England proposing a tourament to be hosted in conjunction with the RWC for the weaker nations when they bid for the 2007 World Cup. If the IRB were considering reducing the teams in the World Cup to 16 maybe having a tourament for the weaker nations from which the semi finalists would qualify for the RWC and join the top 12 countries might be an idea worth investigating. You could then have a fairer schedule at RWC with the gaurantee that the four qualifiers would be the best four countries from the lower tiers.More lower ranked countries would sample what it is like to play in a major tourament and compare themselves to each other in the new tourament.
    I know this would be radical but it would solve a couple problems for the IRB as I do question the benefit for countries like Russia and Namibia to play in RWC if they are going to be mistreated like they are. Also counties like Canada, USA, Japan and Samoa would benefit from having competitive games in a tourament envoirment at World Level before they go to RWC.

  6. “If the IRB were considering reducing the teams in the World Cup to 16 maybe having a tourament for the weaker nations from which the semi finalists would qualify for the RWC and join the top 12 countries might be an idea worth investigating.”

    I don’t agree – no offense. 1. It already is like that in a way. Seedings (IRB has a really good seeding system based on years of data and research) determine who qualifies in test matches. Seedings also determines which of the teams is in which group. Actually, the seedings for the top 4 in each group is the only bone of contention for me. That doesn’t seem to have been based on recent enough seedings and probably should have been. Form 1-2 years from WC time should be the basis for seeding for the WC groups IMO – the present system is a bit backwater.

    The 6 nations, tr-nations, and ERC are all more professionally run than the WC imo. Others will disagree but that’s how I see it.

    Rugby is still (at least for now) about tests. Long may it continue, and long may seedings (i.e test matches) be the be all and end all.

    A world cup should never be seen as any more important than the following.

    A) Getting through a year unbeaten – i.e. win every tri-nation or 6N game and every test in that year.

    B)Tri-nations slam
    C)6N grand slam

Comments are closed.