Samoan Tavita Tulagaese who is affectionately called “Laga” by his friends, will be back once again as the head coach of Havelock SC in the upcoming inter-club rugby season of 2015/16.
Laga, a renowned rugby coach in New Zealand with a proven track record is a highly respected man among all players and official in Sri Lanka. He took over as head coach of Havelock SC in 2012/13 season at the invitation by Asanga Seneviratna.
That year Laga took great pain to mould the inexperience Havelocks outfit into a fighting unit and helped the Park Club to win the ‘A’ division league rugby title that year from nowhere after 31 long years.
Also, they finished as runners-up in the Clifford cup knock-out tournament that year losing only to Kandy 10-5 in the final worked off at Bogambara grounds in Kandy.
As head coach of Havies in 2012/13 season they thrashed the mighty Kandy SC by a huge score of 50–19, one of the worst defeats by a Kandy rugby side in recent times.
Also, they made a brilliant comeback in the second half to beat the strong Navy outfit after they were trailing 0-20 down at half time. The Park Club came back fighting to edge out the Sailors by 22-20 at the final whistle.
Laga a Samoan domiciled in Auckland, New Zealand, first arrived in Sri Lanka in 1996 brought by Asanga Seneviratna and played in his pet position as number eight for the CR and FC where he played a key role as the pilot in the rolling maul.
This success allowed them to clinch the ‘A’ Division League rugby title that year after 22 long years, being unbeaten throughout the tournament under the fantastic leadership of former Isipathana hooker Viraj Prasantha.
Laga joined Kandy SC in 2003 and performed the dual role of coach cum player in the first two years when foreigners were allowed to represent clubs in domestic tournaments.
During his four year tenure as coach, Kandy SC reigned supreme in the club rugby scene. They clinched the rugby triple for three consecutive years by winning the Caltex ‘A’ Division League title, Clifford Cup knock-out and the Rugby Sevens title.
Under Laga in 2006 too Kandy SC clinched the Caltex ‘A’ Division title and the Rugby Sevens title, but missed a golden opportunity of bagging the triple crown for the fourth consecutive year when they withdrew from the Clifford cup tournament in protest against the SLRFU decision to play the semi-finals and final in Colombo.
This season when Laga returns to Havelocks, his main intention will be to help the Park club to win back the Dialogue ‘A’ Division Rugby League title which has eluded them since the 2012/13 season.