By contrast, Sam Burgess received just a warning for an ugly high tackle on Michael Hooper while England teammate Tom Wood also avoided a suspension for kicking Liam Williams unconscious. Both incidents may have been unintentional but when Tuilagi receives five weeks for running hard through a poorly executed tackle it is hard to escape the conclusion that a two-tier form of justice is being administered.
Hooper himself only received a one-week suspension for a deliberate no-arms shoulder charge on Mike Brown, who has a serious concussion history with the hearing citing his good character despite previously escaping a lengthy ban for hitting Nicolas Sanchez, the Argentina fly half, in the Rugby Championship.
Fuimaono-Sapolu believes that discrepancy is evidence of an ingrained bias towards the big nations. “Jonah Lomu is the greatest rugby player of all time and he pretty much made a career out of bumping people left right and centre like Tuilagi did,” Fuimaono-Sapolu told Telegraph Sport from Samoa. “If he was playing today he would be the most banned player ever. It is so blatantly obvious how unfair it is.
“It is pretty much the same thing where Tom Wood kicks someone in the head and gets nothing. Here we have had the same incident. I believe there was no intent in both instances but one has got five weeks and one has got nothing. One is a Polynesian playing for Samoa, the other is a guy playing for England. It is just a joke.”
Fuimaono-Sapolu has been one of the most outspoken critics of World Rugby. At the 2011 World Cup, he was suspended for his withering attacks on the tournament scheduling and officiating. His anger has barely subsided in the meantime and he says disillusionment is rapidly growing on the Pacific Islands, particularly with the revelation that tier-one countries will receive £7.5m each for their participation in the World Cup compared with £150,000 for the teams outside that elite club.
— Jonathan Davies (@JiffyRugby)
October 7, 2015
“Watching matches is supporting fraud,” Fuimaono-Sapolu, a qualified lawyer, said. “That’s the context that people on the islands are watching this tournament. Take everything into account. Take the way we were treated at the last World Cup, take the fact that in between World Cups no countries come to the Pacific Islands, take that when we play a sold-out match against England we don’t get paid. Everything has just built up and now each incident of injustice is just getting worse and worse. We are there to simply there to make money for tier-one unions and World Rugby.
“I think all the tier-two nations are getting paid less than what the CEO for World Rugby is being paid. You can’t accidentally do all this stuff at two World Cups in a row. It is not just one thing like the Tuilagi suspension however ridiculous that is. It is the turnaround where tier-two teams play two tier-one teams and the tier-one teams play the lowest ranked teams. The attitude is ‘oh look at how great these minnow teams are’ while doing everything possible to disadvantage them.”