Va'aiga Tuigamala

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Va'aiga Tuigamala MNZM
Birth name Va'aiga Lealuga Tuigamala
Date of birth (1969-09-04) 4 September 1969 (age 48)
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(s) Centre, Wing
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
1993–1997 Wigan 102 (254)
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1995 Samoa 2 (8)
Rugby union career
Position(s) Wing, Centre
All Black No. 900
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
1988–1993
1996–1997
1997–2002
Auckland
Wasps
Newcastle

13
113

(20)
(160)
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1989–1993
1996–2001
New Zealand
Samoa
19
23
(21)
(15)

Va'aiga Lealuga 'Inga' Tuigamala MNZM (born 4 September 1969) is a Samoan rugby footballer. Internationally, he first played for New Zealand in rugby union, winning 19 caps, and later for Samoa in both rugby league (two caps) and rugby union (23 caps). He played in one rugby league and two rugby union World Cups.

He played provincially for Auckland, and later played club rugby league and union in England - winning championships with Wigan Warriors, London Wasps, and Newcastle Falcons.

A centre or wing, he was known as a powerful runner, physically much larger than most typical wings in rugby union. In rugby league he became an integral part of the very successful Wigan team of the 1990s.

Playing career[edit]

Rugby union[edit]

Born in Faleasiu, Samoa, Tuigamala played in New Zealand for Ponsonby, and Auckland. He represented New Zealand (the All Blacks) in rugby union as a winger from 1989, playing his first test match against the USA in 1991. He won 19 caps, including playing at the 1991 world Cup.

Nicknamed Inga the Winger, he converted to rugby league, signing with English club Wigan in 1993. His biography Inga the Winger by Bob Howitt was also published in 1993.

Rugby league[edit]

In rugby league, Tuigamala markedly improved his fitness and played as a centre in a very strong an successful Wigan team, winning several trophies over four seasons.

After the 1993–94 Rugby Football League season Tuigamala played from the interchange bench in Wigan's 1994 World Club Challenge victory over Australian premiers, the Brisbane Broncos in Brisbane. 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] He 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.[2] Upon signing for the Falcons, team-mate Doddie Weir called Tuigamala "simply the best rugby player in the world".[citation needed]

He made his début 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 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.[3]

In October 2009 he travelled to Samoa with David Tua to see how they could assist in the aftermath of the Samoa tsunami.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Allied Dunbar Premiership, 1997/98 / Newcastle Falcons / Player records". espnscrum.com. Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  2. ^ "Newcastle snatch Cup glory". BBC. 24 February 2001. Retrieved 26 December 2009. 
  3. ^ "The Queen's Birthday Honours 2008". Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. 2 June 2008. Archived from the original on 12 June 2008. 
  4. ^ 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]