An Independent Judicial Officer has determined that the misconduct sanction handed down to Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu by an RFU disciplinary panel for comments made via social media in this exceptional instance will not trigger a playing suspension under the terms of his current Rugby World Cup sanction.
Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) requested that His Honour Judge Jeff Blackett (the Independent Judicial Officer appointed to hear the original Rugby World Cup 2011 hearing in Auckland on October 15) consider the implications of the RFU disciplinary tribunal hearing against the terms of the sanctions handed down to the Player at a Rugby World Cup 2011 hearing, following proven criticism of the IRB and RWCL within the RFU decision.
The Judicial Officer considered submissions from RWCL and the Player in the context of the terms of the sanction determined by the original Rugby World Cup hearing and amended by the subsequent Appeal Committee hearing decision on November 26, 2011.
Taking into account all the evidence, including the Player’s subsequent restraint since the RFU hearing and his expressed genuine desire to put the episode behind him, Judge Blackett decided to retain the suspended sentence so there were no immediate playing consequences to the Player but he took the opportunity to underscore to Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu the gravity of his actions and to vary the terms of the original suspension by extending the length of the suspension from six to nine months and extending the period of the suspension from two to three years.
Click here to read the full written decision