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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Va’aiga Tuigamala, dual-code rugby legend, dies aged 52 | Sport

Jason Robinson has led a series of emotional tributes to dual-code rugby legend Va’aiga Tuigamala after his death at the age of 52.

Tuigamala, known globally as “Inga the Winger”, played for the All Blacks at the 1991 Rugby Union World Cup before switching to represent his native Samoa in the 1995 Rugby League and 1999 union World Cups.

In total, he won 19 caps for the All Blacks in rugby union and 23 for Samoa and two caps for Samoa in rugby league.

Having arrived in the United Kingdom from New Zealand in 1993, Tuigamala played 102 games for Wigan Warriors during five seasons at the club, scoring 62 tries. He won three league titles with Wigan and two Challenge Cups before returning to union, where he made 126 appearances for Wasps and Newcastle Falcons, scoring 180 points.

Robinson, who played with Tuigamala at Wigan in the 1990s, wrote on social media: “Absolutely heartbroken! I owe so much to this amazing man! Literally helped change my life when he came to ⁦@WiganWarriorsRL⁩ from NZ.”

Va’aiga Tuigamala lifts the trophy after Wigan’s win in the 1996 Middlesex Sevens tournament at Twickenham.
Va’aiga Tuigamala lifts the trophy after Wigan’s win in the 1996 Middlesex Sevens tournament at Twickenham. Photograph: Andrew, Redington/Allsport

Wigan Warriors will hold a minute’s silence before their Super League match against Huddersfield at the DW Stadium on Thursday evening.

The club’s executive director, Kris Radlinski, said: “Every now and then a player comes along who touches the heart and soul of every single fan, player, coach and administrator – Inga was one of them. He was one of the most exciting rugby players to play either code. His presence on the rugby field was huge. As a teenager, he gave me the most precious thing that anyone could, time. We would spend hours on the field doing one on one’s together. It is a very sad day for the club. Rest in peace my friend.”

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