Va'aiga Tuigamala

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Inga Tuigamala MNZM
Full name Va'aiga Lealuga Tuigamala
Date of birth (1969-09-04) 4 September 1969 (age 45)
Place of birth Faleasiu, Samoa
Height 180 cm (5 ft 11 in)
Weight 110 kg (17 st 5 lb; 240 lb)
School Kelston Boys' High School
Notable relative(s) David Tua (cousin)
Rugby league career
Position Centre, Wing
Professional clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1993–1997 Wigan 102 (254)
National teams
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1995 Samoa 2 (8)
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Wing, Centre
New Zealand No. 900
Amateur clubs
Years Club / team
Ponsonby
Professional / senior clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1988–1993
1996–1997
1997–2002
Auckland
Wasps
Newcastle

13
113

(20)
(160)
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1989–1993
1996–2001
New Zealand
Samoa
19
23
(21)
(15)

Va'aiga Lealuga Tuigamala MNZM (born 4 September 1969) is a Samoan rugby footballer. As well as playing for the New Zealand, he represented Samoa in both rugby union and rugby league, playing at centre and wing. As a rugby union player, he was known as a powerful runner, physically much larger than most typical wings. In rugby league, also playing as a centre, he became an integral part of the very successful 1990s' Wigan team.

Playing career[edit]

Rugby union[edit]

Born in Faleasiu, Samoa, Tuigamala played for Ponsonby and Auckland domestically, and represented New Zealand in rugby union as a winger from 1989, playing his first test match against the USA in 1991, and becoming widely known as Inga the Winger before switching to rugby league with Wigan in 1993. His biography Inga the Winger by Bob Howitt was published in 1993.

Rugby league[edit]

After the 1993–94 Rugby Football League season Tuigamala travelled with defending champions Wigan to Brisbane, playing from the interchange bench in their 1994 World Club Challenge victory over Australian premiers, the Brisbane Broncos. He also played international rugby league for Samoa, including at the 1995 World Cup. At the end of 1996's Super League I, Tuigamala was named at centre in the 1996 Super League Dream Team.

Rugby union[edit]

When rugby union became openly professional in 1996, Tuigamala was one of a number of former rugby union players who returned from rugby league – he played for London Wasps, winning the English Premiership and later joined Newcastle Falcons in a world record £1m deal.[citation needed] Inga scored a hat-trick on his third appearance for Newcastle against Moseley at Kingston Park and was an important part of the 1998 Championship-winning side, making 16 appearances that season.[1] He then delayed an arm operation to put in a Man of the Match performance in the 2001 Cup Final.[citation needed] Upon signing for the Falcons, team-mate Doddie Weir called Tuigamala "simply the best rugby player in the world".[citation needed]

He made his debut for Western Samoa in 1996 against Ireland, going on to play 23 test matches, scoring 3 tries. He was an important part of the Samoa squad at the 1999 World Cup.

He has been known for his Christian faith, and in particular for the influence he had with future England rugby union captain Jason Robinson, a team-mate at Wigan. His contentment in life with God was something deeply moving for Robinson, and over their months of friendship, Tuigamala shared his Christian faith, though it wasn't until some time later that Robinson became a Christian.

Post-playing[edit]

Since the end of his rugby career, he has acted as advisor for his cousin David Tua, a professional heavyweight boxer, and currently runs a funeral director company, "Tuigamala and Sons of Glendene" for which the most notable client to date was the late King of Tonga, Taufa'ahau Tupou IV [1].

In the 2008 Queen's Birthday Honours, Tuigamala was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to rugby and the community.[2]

In October 2009 he travelled to Samoa with David Tua to see how they could assist in the aftermath of the Samoa tsunami.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Allied Dunbar Premiership, 1997/98 / Newcastle Falcons / Player records". espnscrum.com. Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  2. ^ "The Queen's Birthday Honours 2008". Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. 2 June 2008. 
  3. ^ Tapaleao, Vaimoana (9 October 2009). "Be strong, have faith, says Tua". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 26 November 2011. 

Ingas latest book is Inga: My Story and offers insight into his life on and off the field of rugby. It is a more comprehensive look at Ingas life. For more info visit http://www.ingathewinger.com/

External links[edit]