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Tuisese Rugby Legacy Stays

Vodafone Fijian Under-20 second five-eighth Aisea Tuisese, 18, is a foot away from continuing the legacy his late greatgrandfather and namesake started 74 years ago.
30 Jun 2022 16:28
Tuisese Rugby Legacy Stays
From left: Three generations of Tuisese (from left) Ratu Ilaitia Tuisese Jnr, Ratu Ilaitia Tuisese Snr and Aisea Tuisese in the family home in Nausori. Photo: Shirley Tuisese

Vodafone Fijian Under-20 second five-eighth Aisea Tuisese, 18, is a foot away from continuing the legacy his late great grandfather and namesake started 74 years ago.

Fijian Under-20 players are Fiji’s junior representative team for World Rugby Under-20 competitions.

It is a critical stepping stone in the development pathway for rugby talent emerging out of school age rugby towards senior representative levels.

On record, his name sake (paternal grandfather’s father) is Flying Fijians number 94.

The first Flying Fijian Tuisese played centre, he had represented Fiji in 1947 and 1948 where he debuted against Tonga at Suva’s Albert Park. Fiji won 25-4, he was one of the four try scorers during the test match.

His second national outing was in 1948 when they hosted the New Zealand Maori in Suva, Fiji lost 6-14.

Twenty-one years later his grandfather Ratu Ilaitia Tuisese (senior) debut in 1969 and is Flying Fijians number 226.

Rugby legend, who plays lock and Number 8, Tuisese, captained the first Fijian team to lift the Hong Kong 7s trophy in 1977.

The Fiji Rugby Union Hall of Fame had played his debut match against Wales in their test match in Suva on June 25, 1969 – the visitors won 38-11; he last represented Fiji in 1977 when he helped the Fijians tame the British Lions 25-21 at the then Buckhurst Park (now ANZ stadium).

Third Tuisese to don the white jer­sey is his father, Tuisese (Jnr), who made his first Test in 2000. His Fly­ing Fijian number is 526.

He is now coaching Naitasiri.

The Serea, Naitasiri, native is now on his maiden tour at the Oceania Under 20 Championship in Aus­tralia.

Proud grandfather Ratu Ilaitia said he can only thank God for the talent in their family.

“I did not dream of this; I can only praise God for the talent that He has given him (Aisea) to continue the legacy in our family,” Tuisese senior said.

“It is unique, a direct line from my father and now Aisea is the fourth. He has sacrificed a lot of things to be where he is today.”

Former U-20 captain Tuisese Jnr indicated it was every parent’s duty to guide their son on the right rug­by pathway.

“It is an investment – starting from Milo Kaji at Marist Primary, then representing Suva before he joined Marist Brothers High School where he also played in the Deans.

“And now he just started in the na­tional side.”

For Aisea rugby not only runs in his blood line, but also through his maternal side.

His mother, Shirley Tuisese is from the Levula family in Navat­ulevu in Nadi.

Dubbed the greatest Fijian 15s rugby player the late Levula is the original Flying Fijian.

He is honoured by rugby players and well regarded for his unortho­dox high knee action and his excep­tionally long strides bursting down the sidelines of the famous fields on which he played while repre­senting Fiji during the 1960s.

In 1951, over 3000 fans gathered around Buckhurst Park to witness the finals between Suva and the Northern District.

To the amazement of the crowd, 21-year-old Levula scored four tries to end Suva’s 10 year stranglehold on the trophy.

The same year, he toured with the Fiji rugby team to New Zealand where he scored a brace of tries to help the Fiji team down the Maoris 21 – 14.

The New Herald of July 4, 1989 de­scribed Levula’s play as “his high-stepping action was allied to an ag­gressive temperament, and many a Caucasian face pale at the thunder­ous approach of a menacing figure whose eyes burned like the light of an express train.”

Feedback: sereana.salalo@fijisun.com.fj



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