Hamilton rugby league player the only person in New Zealand with the first name World Cup

Hamilton man World Cup is named after Samoa's efforts at the 1991 Rugby World Cup.
TOM LEE/STUFF

Hamilton man World Cup is named after Samoa's efforts at the 1991 Rugby World Cup.

Excuse me, can you repeat that please? How do you spell that?

They are two questions which have become the norm for this Hamilton man when he is asked for his first name.

"World Cup," he replies. "You know, like the Rugby World Cup."

There's certainly plenty of double takes when people look at World Cup's licence.
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There's certainly plenty of double takes when people look at World Cup's licence.

And from there, it's the word 'wow' which so often follows from the fascinated inquirer.

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World Cup, 25, is understood to be the only person in New Zealand with that first name.

World Cup says he certainly gets some strange looks and queries when he tells people his name.
TOM LEE/STUFF

World Cup says he certainly gets some strange looks and queries when he tells people his name.

The Department of Internal Affairs confirmed there have been no births (he was born overseas) or deaths with that name, while the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment have no other name matches on record.

And now for the full version, which includes three middle names:

World Cup Anthony Manu Samoa Tuiavii.

There's the clue, in the middle names, about how all this came to be.

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It was October 15, 1991, and as World Cup was making his way into the world in Samoa, his dad, Agato - a big rugby fan - was still on cloud nine with how the national team were performing in their maiden Rugby World Cup appearance, in the UK, Ireland and France.

A win over Wales, a narrow loss to Australia and then a win over Argentina had them into the quarterfinals (where they were eventually ousted by Scotland), and World Cup arrived a day after that victory over the Pumas.

One of 11 children, World Cup - who ironically now plays rugby league instead of rugby - is the only one with a rather unique name. But not that he even knew of it until a decade ago.

You see, everyone, parents included, just called him Manu. It was considered easier. But, at age 15, he found out a huge surprise.

"I looked at my passport and birth certificate, and was like, 'oh, so is that my whole name'," World Cup said.

"I did not realise. "I was shocked as, out of all the names, and he [dad] named me World Cup.

"I was like 'oh ok cool', and I just asked them [his parents] 'how did I get that?' and they started telling me."

Just a few weeks after his birth, World Cup's family moved from Samoa to Hawaii for three years, then shifted to American Samoa.

In 2004 he moved to Los Angeles with his sister, then was back to American Samoa for high school, before coming to New Zealand for his final two years of school - at St Patrick's College in Wellington, while living with his aunty - before he moved to Hamilton to reunite with family.

Despite never being one to watch much sport, World Cup played rugby at school, and a bit of league - which was more to his liking.

He played for the Te Awamutu Firehawks for a couple of seasons, as a winger, then this year moved to the Hukanui club in the Waikato premier club competition to play alongside a cousin, and two of his brothers who had returned from Australia.

He featured as a prop in his team's campaign, which ended last weekend short of the playoffs.

On and off the field, most still just know World Cup as Manu. Even his partner thought that was his name, for a while after they met.

Of his real name, he said his friends "laugh at it" and it's always a bit of fun when they introduce him to people. And there's always double takes when people read it.

"Every time I go somewhere and they look at my ID they're like 'is this actually your real name? World Cup?' They're like 'what do you mean by World Cup?'."

Once he tells them, he said the response is so often overwhelmingly positive.

However, it hasn't convinced him to pass the name down - he has a two-year-old daughter, named Manaia, with another child on the way.

And despite the All Blacks' popularity, and making history in winning back-to-back global tournaments, along with the penchant for more and more unique names these days, he reckons the World Cup title is his own for a good while yet.

 - Stuff

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