PRPW welcomes Mikaele Tuugahala as first French Polynesian representative
The Pacific Rugby Players Welfare board has been bolstered with inclusion of Wallis & Futuna national and former Racing Metro player Mikaele Tuugahala.
Tuugahala joins the fully- independent Players Association as a historical first representative for the 100+ players of French Polynesian decent who currently play professional or semi-professional rugby in France and Europe.
Tuugahala - who played at the Paita S.A club New Caledonia before arriving in France in 2001 at Stade Montois - was one of the first generation of Wallisian players to make a mark on the French domestic leagues.
Known for their aggression, strength and power, Wallis and Futuna (located between Samoa, Tonga and Fiji) currently boast a host of French international players including Romain & Sebastian Taofifenua (Toulon & Bordeaux), Raphael & Pierre-Gilles Lakafia (Toulon & Castres), Jocelino Suta (Toulon), Sebastian Vaha'amahina (Clermont) and Christian Tolofua (Saracens).
On joining PRPW, Tuugahala said "It is a great privilege to joining the PRPW board as a representative voice for our growing Pacific community here in France".
"The French Polynesian community identifies closely with our Samoan, Tongan and Fijian brothers & sisters and the difficulties of integrating into a new and very different life. It is important we join together to combat the challenges we have in common and improve the conditions for our people here in Europe."
Those challenges were recently documented in the film 'Mercenaire' (Mercenary, available with English subtitles on Netflix) which follows the life of a young Wallisian rugby player and his struggle to adapt to life in France. Tuugahala who stars in the film believes PRPW is an important step towards tackling some of the issues raised in the movie.