South Africa vs Samoa at 2011 Rugby World Cup
|Date of birth||31 October 1980|
|Place of birth||Apia, Samoa|
|Height||1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)|
|Weight||102 kg (225 lb)|
|School||Auckland Boys Grammar School(A.G.S)|
|Rugby union career|
Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu (born 31 October 1980 in Apia, Samoa) is a Samoan rugby union footballer. He is a centre who can also play at fly half. He currently plays for Coca-Cola Red Sparks in the Japanese Top League.
Fuimaono-Sapolu first played club rugby as a junior for Manurewa RFC in South Auckland, New Zealand. His coach Gary Healey commented "Eli didn't need much coaching. He was a naturally gifted player who could read the game. His commitment, discipline and sheer exuberance showed at an early age, and he was clearly destined for higher honours".
Fuimaono-Sapolu moved to England in January 2006, signed by Bath Rugby after outstanding performances in the internationals against Scotland (his international debut) and England. He had initially been signed as a temporary replacement to cover for the players playing in the Six Nations Championship, but soon his contract was made permanent. Since arriving at Bath he has won the approval of many fans due to his exciting running and quick hands.
More recently he displayed his all round ability in back play at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, in which he represented Samoa playing out of position at fly-half. Although his side lost to England, South Africa and – surprisingly – Tonga while beating only the USA in the pool stages of the tournament, Fuimaono-Sapolu was one of the standout performers.
In the summer of 2009 Fuimaono-Sapolu left Bath to join Gloucester Rugby on a one-year contract that was later extended for two further seasons. In 2011 Eliota completed a wonderful season by sweeping up all the club's major awards at the end of Season prize giving. He won Player of the year, Try of the Year, Player's Player of the year and Season Ticket Holder's Player of the year. In March 2012, it was announced Sapolu would leave Gloucester to sign with Japanese side Coca Cola West Red Sparks on a two-year contract.
During the 2011 Rugby World Cup Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu made a Twitter post linking the scheduling of the world cup to slavery, the holocaust and apartheid, after Samoa had 3 days to prepare for their match against Wales, while Wales had a week to prepare. Officials that met with the Samoa team management accepted an official apology and decided that no further action was necessary. Later in the tournament when Samoa lost to South Africa Fuimaono Sapolu tweeted that referee Nigel Owens was "racist" and "biased", which resulted in him being suspended from rugby for six months. However, this punishment is suspended for two years.
Fuimaono-Sapolu has been openly critical of the sporting elite and racism, saying their attitude "buys into the narrative of the savage Polynesian". Critical of the IRB handling of his comments in 2011 he said they just wouldn't tolerate a Polynesian speaking up. "I got smashed by the IRB - it was absolutely the corporate hammer coming down."
Fuimaono-Sapolu has worked extensively to broaden popular knowledge of the contribution of Pacific Island culture and science. He moved to Samoa where he works on raising awareness of domestic abuse and misogynistic attitudes.
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- "Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu – player's profile". Guinness Premiership. Archived from the original on 12 September 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2009.
- "Spotlight On... Gloucester's Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu".
- "Scotland v Samoa (2005)". ESPN scrum.com. Retrieved 27 November 2009.
- "England v Samoa (2005)". ESPN scrum.com. Retrieved 27 November 2009.
- Simon Clark (19 January 2006). "Samoans to boost Bath Rugby during Six Nations". Bath Rugby. Retrieved 27 November 2009.[dead link]
- "Fuimaono-Sapolu pledges his future to Bath Rugby". Bath Rugby. 3 March 2006. Archived from the original on 15 June 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2009.
- Duncan Wood (14 May 2009). "Eliota is the centre of attention for Gloucester". Gloucester Rugby. Archived from the original on 27 March 2010. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
- "Gloucester Rugby sign Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu". thisisgloucestershire.co.uk. 14 May 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2009.
- "Gloucester sign Fuimaono-Sapolu". BBC Sport. 14 May 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2009.
- "Eli commits to Gloucester". Sky Sports. 25 February 2010. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
- Duncan Wood (25 February 2010). "Fuimaono-Sapolu extends contract with Gloucester Rugby". Gloucester Rugby. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
- "Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu leaves Gloucester for Japan". Gloucester Citizen. 30 March 2012.
- Melissa Platt (12 May 2011). "The RPA Announce Awards Shortlist". RPA – The Rugby Players' Association. Retrieved 18 May 2011.[permanent dead link]
- "Samoan escapes Twitter punishment". BBC News. 20 September 2011.
- Warmington, Andrea (19 October 2011). "Charges against tweeting Samoan upheld". The New Zealand Herald.
- "Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu: Racism in rugby and school". Radio New Zealand. 2015-12-05. Retrieved 14 December 2015.