World Cup Diary: Samoan braveheart tweets for his people's freedom

Click to follow
The Independent Online

There are enthusiastic Tweeters, there are overenthusiastic Tweeters and there are Tweeters who border on the maniacal. Then there is Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, the Samoan centre, who favours what might be called the "take no prisoners" approach to social media. Yesterday, he set about the World Cup fixture schedulers in unusually frank and forthright terms, comparing the injustice of his country's four-day turnaround for the crucial Wales game to, er, slavery, apartheid and the Holocaust. "Stop exploiting my people," he demanded. He also invited the International Rugby Board to go forth and multiply. Fuimaono-Sapolu has some previous in this area, but his outburst here was way beyond anything previously communicated to his many avid followers. He can expect to be cited. Possibly via Twitter.

Has Barnes booked a one-way ticket to Dunedin's hall of infamy?

Can a man take a simple train trip in this country without being force-fed a diet of All Black history? The short answer is: fat chance. Dunedin's magnificent railway station, opened in 1906 and said by those who know to be a fine example of renaissance revival architecture, boasts a mosaic-floored booking hall, a Royal Doulton porcelain frieze and, up on the first floor...a sporting hall of fame, dominated by mementos of the rugby variety. There is even a mock radio commentary of the game between Wales and the New Zealand "Originals" in Cardiff in 1905 – the first truly controversial match in the annals of the sport, won by the home side after the referee, John Dewar Dallas, disallowed an equalising touchdown by the silver-ferned back Bob Deans. "What do you expect?" says one of the ersatz commentators. "The bleedin' ref never even seen the try." How reassuring for Mr Dallas's modern-day bogey-man equivalent, Wayne Barnes, to know that the folk here will still be whingeing about him a century from now.

Making the top is a team effort

In the same Hall of Fame, alongside exhibitions dedicated to the great pace bowler Sir Richard Hadlee and golfer Bob Charles, stands a large-scale photograph of Mount Everest showing the route taken by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on their groundbreaking ascent of 1953: through the Khumbu Icefall, up the Western Cwm, across the Lhotse Face, along the South Col and South-East Ridge, over what became known as the Hillary Step and on to the summit. The old newspaper coverage had much to say about Hillary, an Aucklander, but rather less to say about his Sherpa companion – the headlines refer to him not by name, but merely as a "porter". Should the All Blacks win this World Cup, will we be reading about "Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and 13 helpers"?

Comments