Rugby Saved Me

They say rugby brings people together but it is more than that. It can also save lives and Fijiana XV rep Rusila Tamoi is a living testament. Tamoi made the
03 Dec 2016 10:59
Rugby Saved Me
Fijiana 15's rep, Rusila Tamoi Photo: RONALD KUMAR.

They say rugby brings people together but it is more than that.

It can also save lives and Fijiana XV rep Rusila Tamoi is a living testament.

Tamoi made the stunning revelation of  her struggle to stay alive through the years at the State House on Wednesday when her Fijiana XV team presented their Itatau to President Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji Konrote. The team departs for Hong Kong on Sunday for the 2017 Rugby for theWomen World Cup qualifier on Friday against the host and Japan on December 13.

Tamoi is already excited of Fijiana XV chances taking part in 2017 RWWC in Dublin.

“I feel really excited to join the team and to be here with them. I cannot wait to play for my country,” Tamoi said.

“I have been through a lot of challenges growing up and to be here with the team is just another memory I want to cherish.”

Rugby means lot more to Tamoi than most as it is the one thing that saved her.

The 32-year-old was abandoned by her father when she was born and although she knows who he is, she has not spoken to him.

She never really had much of a motherly figure growing up as her mother also abandoned her until the age of six when she brought Tamoi to Suva.

“My Mum and dad left me when I was just a baby. I don’t know why they left me,” she said.

“My Mum left me when she couldn’t afford to look after me, she took me to Cicia, Lau and that is when my grandfather looked after me for a while until I was six years old.

“I was brought back to Suva and Mum looked after me until I was 11-years-old when she left me again.

“My aunt who lived in Tailevu took me in and she looked after me while I attended Ratu Filimoni Loco Primary School in Sawakasa.

“That didn’t last long because there were some family issues going on and that is when Mum brought me back to Suva. But things were not good because I would argue with my Mum and she would punch me so then she left me and said I could look after myself.

“After that, I basically did nothing, I left school and did nothing, just hanging around in town not doing anything.

“I only met my Mum when I came back from the Pacific Games in New Caledonia in 2011 but since then until now I have not seen or spoken to her since.

“Rugby is the thing that changed my life.”

Tamoi first discovered rugby at the age of 15 when she was asked to make up a 15s women’s team to play Stanford University form the United States.

“At that time, I didn’t know anything about rugby, all I knew how to do was run because I was a sprinter,”she said.

“They put me to play wing and I didn’t know how to catch the ball but I really enjoyed the experience.

“After that I left rugby and did nothing until 2011 when I joined the Telecom Fijiana 7s team to go to New Caledonia for the Pacific Games where we won gold.”

Tamoi’s speed and talent sealed her place with the Telecom Fijiana team from 2011 to 2015.

She got the opportunity to travel and explore countries she did not dream of.

Currently staying with the Vuniwaiwai family in Tovata, Tamoi said she chose to move on with her life and make her life mean something despite her upbringing.

“When people know about my background they feel sorry for me or wonder how I got to this point,” Tamoi said.

“What I went through growing up was what made me stronger and what motivated me to move forward; I did not let anything stop me.

“I don’t look at it as a negative thing that I did not have the privilege that many had with having both parents growing up.

“I am staying with my family friends, the Vuniwaiwai family in Tovata, they are the ones who have been looking after me and have been there for me.

“Both of my parents are married to their own partners and I am their only child.”

For Tamoi, not seeing and speaking to her parents all these years has not bothered her as rugby is her new family now.

“Ever since I started playing rugby, I have made best friends and I considered them as my family as well, and this is the best family I could ever ask for.

“They say blood is thicker than water but one thing I have learnt is that family does not always mean those who you are related by blood, it is the ones who have been there for you through thick and thin.

“This is my family now, the Fijiana XV team.”


Edited by Osea Bola.




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