Ilaitia Lekaiwala Tagotago - Sporting Union Agen

- First name/s: Ilaitia Lekaiwala
- Surname: Tagotago
- Place of birth: Sigatoka
- Date of birth: 20/12/1990
- Marital Status: Single
- Club: SU Agen
- Position: Wing

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Ilaitia Tagotago of Sporting Union Agen.
(Photo: Supplied)

Sigatoka lad, Ilaitia Lekaiwala Tagotago has been playing professionally in France since 2010. At only 22 years of age, this talented youngster has successfully held his ground in an international arena of many more experienced players. With a great determination to learn and grow both on and off the field, predictions for Tagotago is that the best is yet to come!!

Established in 1908, making it 105 years old this year, the Sporting Union Agen Rugby Club is located in the town of Agen in the South-West of France’s Aquitaine Region.

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The club plays at France’s Top14 level and, amongst the Pacific Islanders on their team, boasts two Fiji rugbymen, of whom Tagotago is one. The club motto is “courage, boldness and self-sacrifice” something that they demonstrate both on and off the field. Showing support for their Fijians comrades, they decided to respond favourably to the Fiji Flood Fundraising Appeal last year issued by Fiji’s Embassy in Belgium in aid of the victims of the violent floods. They sent clothes, jerseys and other sporting effects in a show of solidarity and that common values shared with their Fiji comrades extends off the field as well.

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We caught up briefly with Ilaitia Tagotago, who accepted to answer the questions of the French Embassy for its section “Discovering Fiji Rugbymen in France”:

Q: Which part of Fiji are you from originally? Where did you grow up?

A: I am originally from Navosa, which is in the West of the main island of Viti Levu.

Q: When did you start playing rugby?

A: I started playing rugby in 1996 at the age of 6.

Q: When did you start playing professionally? What clubs have you played in? Tell us briefly about your rugby career. (Your progress through to where you are now)

A: I continued to play rugby through school and represented Fiji in the Junior World Cup U-20 Championship.

Q: What was the “triggering factor” that made you decide to go to France? How did you manage to find (contact) a club in France?

A: Following my performance for Fiji at the Junior World Cup U-20, I was approached by the SU Agen club and joined them in 2010.

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Tagotago for Agen in their match against Aironi
(Photo: Supplied)

Q: What has changed in your life since you started playing professionally?

A: I have learnt and now understand a lot more about the theory of the game of rugby.

Q: Did you find it easy, as a newcomer, to settle in with the rest of your team mates? To settle in France?

A: No, when I first arrived I found it quite difficult to adjust because of the language.

Q: When you first arrived in France, what shocked or surprised you the most?

A: Firstly… the WEATHER! I think the weather shocked me the most.

Q: What do you think are the biggest differences between living in Fiji and living in France?

A: For me, I would say the difficulty in communicating with people because of the language.

Q: Is your family with you in France? If not, how often do you visit them?

A: No, they are in Fiji but I visit once a year, during the off-season.

Q: How do you stay in touch with your loved ones back home in Fiji?

A: I stay in touch with my family mostly by phone.

Q: Why did you decide to come and play in France?

A: I chose to come so I can help my family back in Fiji.

Q: What do you miss the most?

A: I miss my family the most.

Q: Most memorable match moment as a player?

A: Playing the final in 2010.

Q: Most memorable moment as a spectator?

A: Playing the final in 2010.

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Tagotago in action for Agen
(Photo: Supplied)

Q: Favourite rugby player?

A: David Pocock

Q: Favourite team?

A: The Wallabies.

Q: When your overseas rugby career ends, would you consider returning to play for Fiji?

A: If the opportunity comes up, why not?

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

A: Hopefully playing top level rugby in France.

Q: Who inspires you the most?

A: My family

Q: We hear many sports people have a lucky charm (special shorts, etc) or even a special ritual they use/do before a big game; do you have one? If yes, what is it?

A: No, I don’t have a lucky charm. I just pray to the Almighty for guidance and protection before every game.

For more information:

-  Sporting Union Agen club website: http://www.agen-rugby.com
-  Agen City website: http://www.agen.fr
-  The Top 14 results: http://www.lequipe.fr/Rugby/top-14-classement.html

Published on 29/01/2013

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