AUCKLAND, New Zealand, September 20 – The scheduling row that has soured the World Cup took on a new dimension with a Samoan player accusing the International Rugby Board of exploitation akin to “slavery” and “apartheid”.
Eliota Sapolu Fuimaono, a centre who plays his club rugby for Gloucester in England, used his Twitter account to accuse the sport’s ruling body of “unfair treatment” following Samoa’s 17-10 loss to Wales.
Sapolu Fuimaono pointed out that the clash in Hamilton on Sunday was Samoa’s second game in four days, while Wales had enjoyed a week off beforehand.
He called this exploitation and said Samoa’s treatment was “like slavery, like the holocaust, like apartheid”.
The IRB defended its scheduling and said the Twitter tirade was disappointing.
“We are aware of the comments and find the context of them disappointing,” an IRB spokesman said.
Samoa team officials are understood to be meeting with the IRB later Tuesday to discuss the issue.
The Welsh win over Samoa means that they are now in pole position to take the second qualifying position from the tough Pool D behind defending champions South Africa.
Several of the “Tier Two” nations, like Canada, Georgia and Namibia, have also complained about the scheduling and in particular the turnaround times between games, which they say discriminates against them.
The top teams from the Six Nations and Tri Nations tournaments in general have been accorded more time to recover between matches.
After a rest day on Monday, World Cup action was set to resume with Italy looking for the maximum five points from their clash with new boys Russia in Nelson later Tuesday.
The Italians collapsed in the second half of their opener against Australia after a promising start and Ireland’s upset win over the Wallabies has made it all the more difficult for them to reach the quarter-finals for the first time.
France and South Africa both unveiled their teams for their third pool games and the French sprung a mighty surprise by selecting scrum-half Morgan Parra at fly-half in the starting XV to take on the All Blacks at Eden Park on Saturday.
He pulls on the No.10 shirt instead of Francois Trinh-Duc, who played in the opening wins against Japan and Canada, but who failed to impress coach Marc Lievremont in either game.
“I think that Francois Trinh-Duc, after two matches when he was not at his best, pays the price and on the other hand Morgan (Parra) has been quite effective,” the coach said.
The Springboks handed a recall to winger Bryan Habana in the side to take on southern African neighbours Namibia in Auckland on Thursday.
He was one of five changes from the side that impressed hugely in a 49-3 win over Fiji in Wellington last Saturday.
Habana, who has recovered from a knee injury, will have another opportunity to claim the all-time Springbok try-scoring record he currently shares with Joost van der Westhuizen on 38 tries.
“Our biggest challenge is to manage our players at the moment,” coach Pieter de Villiers said. “We’ve had two bruising encounters and from those John (Smit) is the only one still standing.”