Va'aiga Tuigamala

Va'aiga TuigamalaMNZM
Full name Va'aiga Tuigamala
Date of birth (1969-09-04) 4 September 1969
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
Professional / senior clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)


National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
New Zealand

Va'aiga Lealuga Tuigamala MNZM (born 4 September 1969) is a Samoan rugby footballer. As well as playing for 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

Rugby union

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

Va'aiga Tuigamala played Centre, i.e. number 3, (replaced by Interchange/Substitute Paul Atcheson on 56-minutes) and scored 2-tries in Wigan's 40-10 victory over Warrington in the 1994–95 Regal Trophy final during the 1994–95 season at Alfred McAlpine Stadium, Huddersfield on Saturday 28 January 1995,[1] and played Centre, i.e. number 3, and scored a try in the 25-16 victory over St. Helens in the 1995–96 Regal Trophy final during the 1995–96 season at Alfred McAlpine Stadium, Huddersfield on Saturday 13 January 1996.[2]

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

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. 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.[3] He then delayed an arm operation to put in a Man of the Match performance in the 2001 Cup Final.[4] Upon signing for the Falcons, team-mate Doddie Weir called Tuigamala "simply the best rugby player in the world".

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.


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 .

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.[5]

In October 2009 he travelled to Samoa with David Tua to see how they could assist in the aftermath of the Samoa tsunami.[6]


  1. "28th January 1995: Warrington 10 Wigan 40 (Regal Trophy Final)". 31 December 2014. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  2. "13th January 1996: St Helens 16 Wigan 25 (Regal Trophy Final)". 31 December 2014. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  3. "Allied Dunbar Premiership, 1997/98 / Newcastle Falcons / Player records". Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  4. "Newcastle snatch Cup glory". BBC. 24 February 2001. Retrieved 26 December 2009.
  5. "The Queen's Birthday Honours 2008". Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. 2 June 2008.
  6. 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

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