Name celebrates Samoa's first World Cup win

BRENDON EGAN
Last updated 05:00 04/03/2011
ROLE MODEL: A young Cardiff Vaega hangs out with former All Black   star Jonah Lomu after Counties' NPC game against Southland in Invercargill in 1995. Vaega's father To'o was playing for Southland.
ROLE MODEL: A young Cardiff Vaega hangs out with former All Black star Jonah Lomu after Counties' NPC game against Southland in Invercargill in 1995. Vaega's father To'o was playing for Southland.

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Cardiff Vaega jokes that, if he got a dollar for every time he was asked about his first name, he would be a rich man.

The 19-year-old Rugby Southland academy member is constantly bombarded by people who want to know the story behind his name with most believing he was born in the Welsh capital.

Vaega said the origins of his name lay in the 1991 Rugby World Cup – where his father, Samoan rugby international To'o Vaega – scored a crucial try to help his team upset Wales 16-13 in their opening game of the tournament in Cardiff.

It was Samoa's first appearance at a Rugby World Cup and he said his dad still spoke fondly about that famous win.

"People say it was a controversial try, but that try against Wales is how I got my name," he said.

"It's one of the tries that got them into the lead."

Cardiff followed his father's rugby career closely and recalls jumping up off his chair in the living room and doing the Samoan haka to imitate his dad on television.

These days, Vaega senior, who shone for Southland between 1995 and 1997, works as a community health worker for Southseas Healthcare in Auckland. He no longer plays or coaches rugby, but Cardiff said he took a keen interest in how his three sons were going with their rugby.

Cardiff's two younger brothers both attend Kelston Boys' High School and, like him, are promising young talents.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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