Ikale Tahi coach apologizes for comments – three suspended

Mana ‘Otai, Tonga National Rugby Union team’s coach has apologized for his “stereotype” comment saying “it was certainly not my intention to offend anyone and I offer my sincere regret if any offence was taken. It was certainly not my intention to upset or harm any individuals involved in the game."

The apology was made following a misconduct investigation conducted by the International Rugby Board for 'Otai's racial-based comments.

Canadian Press interviewed Otai after the ‘Ikale Tahi lost to Canada 37-26 on June 8 and in his response he said, “I had a look at both. I couldn't really see why (the yellow cards were issued). It's almost like, these days you know, when a black man is tackling harder than the other, it seems to be the way.

And I think some of the foreigners that are involved in our team now are starting to see that. It's just hard to battle or fight that stereotype, I guess. But I'm not taking away the fact that at times we do, I guess, make mistakes in terms of tackling — if I'm talking in general. But in today's game, I couldn't justify the two yellow cards”.

‘Epeli Taione, Tonga Rugby Union chairperson was happy with ‘Otai’s apology and commended the way how he handled the situation saying 'Otai is “the ultimate professional”.

In the mean time three Tongan rugby  players David Halaifonua,  Siale Piutau and prop Edmund ‘Aholelei will miss the rest of the Pacific Nations Cup after being suspended for foul play in the loss to Canada last weekend.

The International Rugby Board judiciary has suspended the trio after finding them to have breached IRB  foul play  laws.

"Halaifonua, who contested his charge, was banned for six weeks until July 21 for a high shoulder charge on winger Matt Evans that caused Evans to be taken off on a stretcher. Halaifonua will also be unavailable for the Sevens World Cup in Moscow this month.

"‘Aholelei pleaded guilty to punching flanker Jebb Sinclair, for which he was sent off in the first half. ‘Aholelei was suspended to July 12, including a Melbourne Rebels’ Super Rugby game that day.

Piutau was banned for three weeks to June 30 after pleading guilty to punching hooker Ray Barkwill."

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