Josua Tuisova, the star Fijian centre, played in his country’s Rugby World Cup win over Georgia on Saturday despite learning of the death of his seven-year-old son a few hours earlier.
Tuisova’s father Isikeli Ratulevu, speaking to Fiji Village, said that Tuisova has not returned to Fiji for the funeral on Tuesday in Votua, after his son passed away following a long-term illness on Friday.
“With heavy hearts, we announce the passing of our beloved Tito Micgabraph Donzel Ratulevu,” a statement read. “He is the son of Mr Josua Tuisova and Mrs Katarina Ladoge Ramoce. Affectionately known as “Tito,” he peacefully departed after a prolonged battle with a debilitating illness in Lautoka Hospital.”
Tuisova, 29, was named player of the match following Fiji’s 22-15 win over Australia earlier in the pool stages, and has formed a strong centre partnership with Fiji captain Waisea Nayacalevu.
Speaking after that win over the Wallabies, Tuisova had high praise for his team-mates. “It’s history for us. I just want to thank the boys for their hard work. They gave everything. I just said to them for the second half to empty the tank, give everything they have to try to win this game.
“We have a bond in the team, especially playing alongside some favourite players. We come together and play as a team.”
After a successful spell in sevens, Tuisova has been based in France for his entire professional career, starting with Toulon before joining Lyon and most recently Racing 92 this summer.
Fiji next play against Portugal on Sunday, requiring one point to progress to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2007. They could even top the group if Wales were to suffer a shock defeat to Georgia.
Regarding Fiji’s own win over Georgia, assistant coach Brad Harris discussed the physical toll of that game on Monday.
“There are a few bumps and bruises. I tell you what, I don’t think you get much more of physical game than that on the weekend. Full credit to Georgia, my goodness they were tough and physical. We took a lot of bumps and bruises during that game.”