Monday, 2nd September 2019 @ 17:00
Harlequins Women and England Centre Lagi Tuima on her move to London and her long-term goal to become the best centre in women’s rugby
Despite already being capped five times for the Red Roses, Lagi Tuima only began playing rugby five years ago at Davenport Services RFC in Plymouth, when she was just 16. Prior to that, she was a keen footballer but had experienced the game through watching her brothers from the sidelines.
“Anything they were doing I wanted to emulate, if not challenge, and that has remained my ‘why’ to this day. Said Lagi, who added: “You respect the role models that you have around you and my family were a huge influence in terms of me wanting to start my rugby journey.
“Rugby is an incredible sport in terms of the values and lessons that it teaches you. The spirt of the game, in terms of the discipline, respect and honour that it instils, carries through to your daily life and I think that is the biggest “win”. How you act off the field says a lot about you as a person and I am still learning how to be a better version of myself on a daily basis. Integrity is a central component of life and rugby and it’s something I strive to achieve on and off the field.”
To say that Tuima comes from a “rugby family” is an understatement: “Akapusi Qera (the former Gloucester Rugby captain) is my uncle and we still keep in touch and he’s already on hand to offer advice and help expand my knowledge of the game. My brother Rus is also based down at Exeter Chiefs, so there’s a healthy rivalry there, though it all comes from a good place.
“Work ethic is massive in our family. If you want to be the best, you have to be willing to put in the hours and remain focussed. You have to want it more than anything else, but you also need to be willing to enjoy the journey – that’s what my uncle has always taught me.”
Tuima was awarded a full-time contract with England Women following her debut for the international side in 2018, but previously balanced her rugby alongside her studies: “I completed a Sports and Exercise Science degree at Exeter University before becoming a professional, but I owe a lot of my success to them, especially in terms of the work I did with Wayne Pattinson on my strength and conditioning and with the Head Coach Jo Yapp. They helped me form the foundations and subsequently played a massive part in allowing me to forge a journey into elite rugby.
“I’ve now started a new chapter at Harlequins and I’m incredibly grateful to pursue my rugby full-time. I know how I work best, eliminating all distractions and focussing on the bigger picture, which is achieving domestic success and having a shot at the World Cup Squad in a couple of years’ time.
“Harlequins is one of the top teams in the country and I’ve been lucky enough to see them play at The Stoop several times. What the Club has done to grow women’s rugby in this country, especially with campaigns like The Game Changer, has been incredible. I came on as a substitute there for England against Wales during the Six Nations in 2018 and it was incredible to see how far the women’s game has come in terms of prestige and attendance.
“The biggest incentive in terms of me wanting to join the Club, however, was how family-oriented it is. As soon as you walk in the door, you really feel how close all the girls are and that is reflected with our interaction with the boys as well. This is very much one club with a shared focus – to win – and that reflects my own personal goals. I want to be the best centre there is and I want to leave my mark on the league and internationally.”