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Jul 19

PM brands IRB refs ‘idiots’

CHAIRMAN AND PM: Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi is not impressed with the IRB referees.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has branded the officials appointed by the International Rugby Board (IRB) to officiate at the recent Samoa and Scotland test match as “idiots.”

Tuilaepa said one “idiot” tried to convince everyone in broad daylight that the ball had crossed the line when it clearly didn't. “There is still an attitude of racial discrimination which exists in these officials against the rise of the Manu Samoa that they don't want us to defeat any of the big teams [like Scotland],” Tuilaepa told Radio 2AP during his weekly programme called “2AP ma le Palemia.”

“They think they know everything and then they send idiots to officiate an important game. “One of them tries to convince us in broad daylight in our own country that the ball carrier had stepped out of the field with the ball when we can all see that he left the ball in the field before he was pushed outside the field.” The official in question is Australian touch judge, Ian Smith. He’s drawn the ire of the Samoan public after he raised the flag, which denied Manu Samoa a crucial try in the one-point loss to Scotland, at Apia Park, two weeks ago.

Video evidence shows that Mr Smith was wrong. But the try cost Samoa the game and Tuilaepa, who is the Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union, is clearly unhappy.

The Prime Minister said he’s ordered the Samoa Rugby Union to file a formal complaint with the IRB “so they won’t send any more idiots to officiate in future Manu Samoa games.”

The Vice Chairman of SRU, Lefau Harry Schuster said the complaint has already been lodged. “After every game, we review the performance of all referees and we review the game,” said Lefau.

“With regards to that call, we have sent a report and are awaiting a response from the IRB as to what will be done.” The IRB’s Head of Communications, Dominic Rumbles told the Samoa Observer the incident has been brought to their attention.

"All match official performances are subject to extensive evaluation by IRB performance reviewers. Performances are then taken into account when future selections are made." But Manu Samoa coach, Stephen Betham, said the decision by Mr Smith was tough to accept.

“It hurts us (Manu Samoa) to watch the replay and it hurts even more to know that nothing can change the outcome of that game,” Betham said. “We have seen the replay so many times and I still cannot see what the referee saw.” Betham said Mr Smith thought Scotland wing, Tim Visser, was outside when the ball was knocked out of his hands. This was then picked up by Paul Perez who showed a clean pair of heels to sprint to the try line.

“I am not sure what the referee saw, but the Scotland winger was not out and when Paul picked up the ball he was inside the line.” Betham agrees with suggestions that the IRB should hold the officials they appoint to account for their actions. “We’ve done all we can do and we just have to wait.

The IRB will look at both sides which means they will have to talk to the touch judge and see what he has to say before they can reply. The report from the SRU was sent to Paddy O’brien, the Head of the IRB’s Referee Board. Betham said the result of the game cannot be changed but by letting the IRB know, it sends the message that Samoa is tired of being treated harshly by these wrong calls.

“This will show that we are not asleep here. We are a proud people and humble in defeat but it doesn’t mean we will sit here and do nothing. “That try would have sealed the game for us and we really wanted to win but unfortunately that wasn’t the case and we will move on.” Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tuilaepa has directed SRU not to arrange any more Manu Samoa games at Apia Park until certain things are done.

These include a clock on the scoreboard. He also wants the games to telecast live “so that whoever is in charge of the referees and officials overseas can see for themselves how the games are officiated by the idiots they send over.” The Prime Minister also wants a better siren at the Park.

“If the siren sounds and the referee continues the match unnecessarily, then a rock hitting his head would be justified!”

Author: Marieta Heidi Ilalio and Niccola Marie Hazelman (Samoa Observer)
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