New racism row rocks Samoa

Fri, 13 Jul 2012 12:27
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The IRB is investigating a verbal broadside from Samoa's prime minister in which he accused "idiot" referees of racial bias.

The International Rugby Board is reportedly investigating a verbal broadside from Samoa's prime minister in which he accused "idiot" referees of racial bias in a Test loss to Scotland.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who is also chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union (SRU), took issue with a disallowed Samoan try in last month's one-off Test against Scotland in Apia, which the hosts lost 17-16.

The Samoa Observer said that Tuilaepa accused officials of discriminating against the Pacific team, known as Manu Samoa, in an interview on public radio last week.

"There is still an attitude of racial discrimination which exists in these officials against the rise of the Manu Samoa, that they don't want us to defeat any of the big teams," he said.

"They think they know everything and then they send idiots to officiate an important game."

He also criticised time-keeping at the Apia Park venue, saying: "If the siren sounds and the referee continues the match unnecessarily, then a rock hitting his head would be justified."

The Samoa Observer said the IRB had written to the SRU seeking "urgent clarification" of Tuilaepa's remarks.

It said the sport's governing body believed he may have breached IRB regulations but it refused to elaborate on what sanctions he might face until it received word back from the SRU.

The IRB could not be immediately contacted for comment.

Tuilaepa also slammed officials at last year's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, arguing harsh calls from a Welsh referee contributed to Samoa's loss to South Africa in a pool game, allowing Wales to advance at their expense.

At the time, he demanded the IRB "look beyond its petty northern hemisphere comfort zone, and realise that the world - countries big and small - is picking up a rugby ball and expects to play on a level playing field."