Tana Umaga

Situation on 20 January 2007 National team: September 27, 2006

Ionatana Falefasa " Tana " Umaga [ tɑ ː nə 'u ː mʌŋə ] ( born May 27, 1973 in Lower Hutt in New Zealand) is a New Zealand rugby union player and former captain of the All Blacks, for which he completed 79 internationals. He finished his playing career for the time being at RC Toulon, to work there as a coach. At the beginning of 2009, however, he was known to play active again. He will operate until the end of the 2008/09 season as player and coach, until he Philippe Saint-Andre will replace in the coming season as coach.

Playing career

The son of Samoan immigrants originally played rugby league ( Thirteeners Rugby) and represented his country for two years in the U19 national team in the sport. His brother Mike, a Samoan rugby union international who persuaded him to change into fifteen rugby. The two brothers faced each other once - in 1999 - in an international match against which the All Blacks won with 71-13. Umaga scored two tries.

After he started his career in 1993 in Italy at Rugby Viadana, he played first time in 1994 for the province of Wellington in the NPC ( National Provincial Championship ), the highest national league in New Zealand. 2001-2005 he was captain of the province. Since the founding of the Super 12/14 in 1996, a competition of the best provinces from Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, he played for the Wellington Hurricanes. In 1997, he celebrated his international debut on the outside position. Later he moved to the inner position. He is considered one of the toughest defenders in rugby.

However, he is also known for his sportsmanship. In a friendly against Wales on 21 June 2003, the Welsh captain Colin Charvis lost due to an Tackles New Zealander Jerry Collins consciousness. Umaga controlled despite the continued running game that Charvis his mouthguard not swallowed, and put him in the recovery position. For this exemplary behavior Umaga received the Pierre de Coubertin medal ( after Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games ). The Welsh Rugby Union honored him with a figure.

Umaga missed almost the entire 2003 World Cup after his team-mate Carlos Spencer he collided in the first game against Italy and his left posterior cruciate ligament injured. His next international game but he played already as captain after he was selected by new coach Graham Henry as the successor of Reuben Thorne for this post. The first six games were won under his leadership, including two against the world champions England. Even then, the All Blacks lost their away games in the Tri-Nations tournament, so they finished the tournament in 2004 in last place.

An incident on the tour of the British and Irish Lions to New Zealand in 2005, Umagas reputation in question. In the first minute of the first of three international matches between New Zealand and the Lions Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll was thrown at a ruck of Umaga and hooker Keven Mealamu said on the floor and hurt himself so hard on the shoulder, that he operates had to be, and the remaining matches of the tour could no longer deny. An independent jury found after the game that neither Umaga nor Mealamu would be punished, but since then a representative of the IRB Rugby World Association the incident as " unacceptable and dangerous" ( unacceptably dangerous ) has called and apologized to O'Driscoll.

However, the incident fell into the background, as Umaga the All Blacks led to three victories over the Lions, to win the Tri Nations in 2005 and a successful Grand Slam tour in the autumn.

In light of these achievements, he was nominated by the IRB for the title of the best rugby player in 2005 and many European commentators compared Umaga with Martin Johnson, the England 2003 World Cup as captain helped to victory. 2006, a survey among Australian Super 14 players that they respected Umaga by all opponents the most.

After 21 internationals as captain Tana Umaga announced at a press conference on 10 January 2006 surprisingly announced his retirement from the national team in order to have more time for his family. However, he continued to play for Wellington and the Hurricanes.

In June 2006, Umaga was nominated for his services to rugby an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit. In the same month, he signed a contract with the French second division side RC Toulon.

Coaching career

Umaga led the team of RC Toulon in the first French League Top 14 After bad start to the season and relegation danger, he reactivated himself as a player. He will leave at the end of the season as coach, he sees himself as too inexperienced to continue to perform such a role.