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IRB investigates PM Tuilaepa responds

The International Rugby Board (IRB) is investigating comments made by Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi in his capacity as the Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union (SRU).

The comments involve words such as “idiots” and “racial discrimination” used by the Prime Minister to describe the IRB officials who refereed Manu Samoa’s one point loss to Scotland, last month. In an email to the Samoa Observer, IRB’s Head of Communications, Dominic Rumbles said the IRB has initiated action to investigate the Prime Minister’s comments.

He said some words “may be in breach of IRB Regulations governing the global game. “Regarding the alleged comments, the IRB has written to the SRU [Samoa Rugby Union] requesting urgent clarification,” Mr Rumbles wrote. Asked what might arise as a result of the investigation, Mr Rumbles said it was early days yet. He declined to elaborate. “There will be no other public comment until the information requested [clarification of Tuilaepa’s comments from SRU] has been received.” But Tuilaepa was unrepentant when he was asked for a comment, yesterday.

“I am happy that they have responded,” he told the Samoa Observer. “The whole purpose of my comments was to draw the attention of the IRB and also those boys who are in charge of selecting referees. “I wanted that the attention to be drawn to the consistent breaches when it comes to the Manu Samoa.” The Prime Minister said the IRB exists to foster the growth of rugby around the world.

“Regardless of how much they do, they will fail to drive that objective if the referees mess it up. They play a very integral part in growing the game.” Tuilaepa said referees “are not gods that what ever they say should be allowed to hold. “You cannot continue to ignore [these things], especially after strings and strings and strings of breaches made against Manu Samoa.

“One writer even took the trouble of enumerating those breaches and when you cannot continue to see this stupidity on the field, you begin to wonder, what are the IRB are boys doing about it.”