IRB deny sending letter

IRB deny sending letter

THE INTERNATIONAL Rugby Board has denied comments from Samoa coach Stephen Betham that it sent him a letter saying he was not allowed to select Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu in his team.

Fuimaono-Sapolu and Rugby World Cup skipper Mahonri Schwalger were the big omissions when Betham named his 35-man training squad ahead of next month’s Pacific Nations Cup and one-off test against Scotland.

Fuimaono-Sapolu made headlines during the Rugby World Cup for a series of controversial comments he made on Twitter regarding the IRB and Welsh referee Nigel Owens.

Betham says that he was informed by the IRB in a letter that it had ruled out Fuimaono-Sapolu from participating in IRB-sanctioned tournaments.

But the game’s governing body replied on its official Twitter account, saying that was not the case.

“Eliota Sapolu [is not] not banned or ineligible for IRB or international matches. Comments by Samoa head coach disappointing and untrue,” its tweet read.

Betham says Schwalger, 33, was left out of the squad because he was too old, but the man himself believes he has paid the price for his stinging criticism of the Manu management team’s conduct at the RWC.

Schwalger wrote a letter to the Samoan Prime Minister following last year's RWC claiming that management officials would disappear for days at a time, engaged in drinking binges at the team's hotel and treated the tournament as a holiday.

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