Fereti ‘Freddie’ Tuilagi (b1971 )
A Samoan former professional rugby footballer of the 1990s and 2000s. After playing rugby union at international level, he turned professional and played rugby league for English clubs Halifax Blue Sox and St. Helens. He played as a wing or centre and is now retired. His first name is often anglicised to Freddie.
Tuilagi is the oldest of seven brothers: Henry, Olotuli, Alesana, Anitelea, Vavae and Manu.
All but Olotuli have played for Leicester Tigers.
In a 2015 preseason friendly, his son Fred Tuilagi also made an appearance for Leicester Tigers and became the 8th Tuilagi to get his senior cap for the Tigers coming off the bench in the Anglo-Welsh Cup 21-20 victory over Bath Rugby.
Tuilagi now coaches children at his own rugby skills course named ‘Tuilagi Rugby Skills Courses’.
He was born in Apia, Samoa, and gained his first international experience playing for Samoa on the 1991 tour to New Zealand. He was also selected for Samoa’s 1991 Rugby World Cup squad but did not play in any of the matches.
Between 1992 and 1995, he toured with Samoa to Australia and South Africa, and was included in their 1995 Rugby World Cup squad. He played against South Africa in the quarter final.
After the 1995 world cup, Tuilagi turned professional for the Halifax Rugby League team, making 57 Super League appearances for them in two years, scoring an impressive 26 tries. In 1999, he joined St Helens.
He played for St. Helens at second-row in their 1999 Super League Grand Final victory over Bradford Bulls. Having won the 1999 Championship, St. Helens contested in the 2000 World Club Challenge against National Rugby League Premiers the Melbourne Storm, with Tuilagi playing from the interchange bench in the loss.
He also played for St Helens from the interchange bench, scoring a try in their 2000 Super League Grand Final victory over Wigan Warriors. He’d made 35 appearances, scoring eleven tries.
He left St. Helens in June 2000 and signed for Leicester Tigers, also making his return to the Samoa national side. He toured with them in the summer of 2002.
He was also selected to tour New Zealand, but was prevented from doing so by an injury, which also denied him a place in national side’s world cup squad.
Tuilagi started the victorious 2002 Heineken Cup Final for Leicester. In the 2003–4 season his younger brother Henry also signed for Leicester, and his younger brother Alesana joined the following season. In 2004–5 season Tuilagi signed for Cardiff Blues. Unfortunately injury limited the number of times he was able to play for Cardiff and was released early. In 2005–6 season Tuilagi played for Castres Olympique in the French Top 14.
Since retiring from playing, Tuilagi has acted as an agent for several players – mainly Samoans playing abroad through his company Global Bro Sports.
Tuilagi also had a spell playing American Football for the Leicester Falcons during the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
He was appointed Director of Rugby for Kesteven Rugby Football Club in February 2019 and he took charge of the senior men’s teams. The men’s 1st XV battled for promotion for most of the 2021/22 season before finishing fourth in Midlands Three East (North).
He left in 2022 to take up the same position at Market Rasen & Louth RUFC.
A Kesteven Rugby spokesman said: “It’s been amazing to have someone of Fred’s status and background at the club. He certainly instilled a level of passion and professionalism in the players and last season we saw the results of that with the first team fighting for promotion for most of the campaign.”