Samoa rugby star suspended indefinitely

Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu played in all four of Samoa's Pool D matches.

Story highlights

  • Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu receives an indefinite suspension from rugby
  • The center failed to turn up to a discplinary hearing following comments made on Twitter
  • Italy's Leonardo Ghiraldini banned for 15 weeks for gouging eyes of Ireland's Cian Healy

Samoa's Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu has been suspended indefinitely from rugby union after failing to attend a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday.

The center was summoned after criticizing referee Nigel Owen on social networking site Twitter following Samoa's 13-5 defeat to South Africa on Friday which ended the Pacific Islanders' participation at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

"The judicial officer determined that due to the player's failure to attend the hearing he would adjourn the case to an appropriate time when he would face the charges against him," tournament organizers Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) said in a statement.

"Pending the holding of such a hearing, he ordered that Mr. Fuimaono Sapolu be provisionally suspended from all participation in the game of rugby union."

Fuimaono-Sapolu had received a warning for a similar outburst earlier in the World Cup.

The 30-year-old criticized RWCL for Samoa's fixture schedule and compared it to a holocaust, but escaped with a warning.

Meanwhile, Italy forward Leonardo Ghiraldini has been banned for 15 weeks for foul play during the Azzurri's 36-6 reverse against Pool C winners Ireland.

The hooker was handed the sanction after admitting that he gouged the eye of Ireland prop Cian Healy during Sunday's match in Dunedin.

"Ghiraldini was accordingly suspended from all rugby up to and including January 17, 2012," read a statement on the tournament's website. "The player has 48 hours in which to appeal from the time he was informed of the decision."

Ireland face Wales on Saturday for a place in the semifinals, with 2003 winners England taking on France on the same day.

On Sunday, hosts New Zealand face Argentina in the other half of the draw, while defending champions South Africa play Australia.