Va’aiga Tuigamala was the Samoa winger and All Blacks winger with the barrel-chested chest, who has passed away. He was 52.
New Zealand Rugby confirmed his death on Friday, describing him as an “icon” and “inspiration,” and claiming that he did things “on and in the field that others could only dream about.”
Although no cause of death has been disclosed, Tuigamala was recently diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes. She had previously spoken out about her struggles with obesity and high blood pressure following a stroke in 2007.
He was about to release an audio series that would discuss his health issues.
Tuigamala stated in a trailer that “the truth was, I was facing a graveyard.” My father, who was 48 years old, died from a stroke. Although he wasn’t overweight, he suffered a stroke that left him with 15 children.
“I think for me, I don’t want be another statistic. . . . Unfortunately, I was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. As you can see, I am obese. I have high blood pressure and had a stroke nine years ago. In rugby terms, I have “just dropped the ball”.
Tuigamala was a part of 19 New Zealand tests and was described as one of the most important wingers to use his size to pass through opponents rather than using pace to get around them.
Samoa also gave him 23 test matches. Later, he switched to rugby league. He played over 100 matches for Wigan in England, where he also represented Samoa in the same code. Near the end of his career, he returned to rugby and signed a $1 million contract with the Newcastle Falcons in England. This was a world record.
Tuigamala was a fan favourite and a popular teammate. He is known for his positive outlook and persistent smile.
Bill Beaumont, World Rugby chairman, said that Beaumont was “a great player and a true star”. “My deepest condolences to his family members and friends during this difficult time.”
Former England rugby star Jason Robinson, Tuigamala’s Wigan rugby league teammate, stated that the deeply religious Tuigamala had changed his life when he was contemplating suicide.
Robinson tweeted, “I owe so many to this incredible man.” He literally changed my life by coming to Wigan Warriors NZ. I send my condolences and love to the family during this difficult time.