IRB under fire for mouth guard fine

THE IRB is under fire after a Samoa player was fined $10,000 for wearing a branded mouth guard.

Samoan winger Alesana Tuilagi wore the offending non-approved mouth guard in the side's 27-7 win over Fiji on Sunday.

Teammate Eliota Sapolu, who got in hot water for tweets criticising the short turnaround between games for tier two teams, once again turned to Twitter condemning the decision.

"You think the fact players are wearing mouth guards protecting themselves would outweigh exclusive deals to make more money!" he wrote.

"Commercialisation has unfortunately overcome all reason and rationale. $$$ first, player welfare last.

"Rules are not rules. They must be just. If Kate Sheppard accepted the rule that women cannot vote it would still be the case now. Question!"

The decision comes as an England avoided sanctions from the IRB by suspending two coaches for Saturday's Scotland match, because they switched the ball during kicks against Romania.

According to the English Rugby Football Union, kicking coach Dave Alred and national fitness coach Paul Stridgeon "mistakenly thought that there was an issue with some of the match balls" in England's Pool C win over Romania.

England stopped switching the balls when warned during the game. After the 67-3 win, England coach Martin Johnson said he had not been aware of the problem. He later said his coaches did not ask the referee before making the switch.

Rugby World Cup Limited said the RFU had taken appropriate action but "any similar breaches in future will be dealt with severely".