Virimi Vakatawa retires

Image Credit: Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images

Update – Virimi Vakatawa and the Racing Rugby Club have revealed a ‘cardiac anomaly’ (heart condition) was spotted prior to the 2019 Rugby World Cup which they have monitored since. It was described as “a pathology likely to put him in danger within the framework of a sports practice at high intensity”. French coach Fabien Galthié struggled to hold back tears as he paid tribute to Virimi;

“Fate meant that Virimi played his last three matches with the Blues in Japan, he shared with great emotion.
When you play high-level rugby, you know that it’s something that can happen. When you receive him with full force, it obviously affects you. He was a key player in our adventure, in our history, he was great.
These last three matches were with us in Japan. He was great again. This example, we must share it with our children and tell them to enjoy each match as if it were the last.”

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Racing centre and French International Virimi Vakatawa has been forced to retire on medical grounds.

The decision was made by the LNR medical committee. The French National Rugby League manages the professional game in the country.

He was a notable omission from their round 1 teamlist and the club did not elaborate (on his injury) but have organised a news conference on Tuesday (French time)

This is a similar situation Flying Fijians prop Peni Ravai found himself in earlier this year and both players can no longer play professional rugby in France.

They can however ply their trade overseas as professionals as different competitions have different medical requirements. This will depend on the seriousness of their injuries or illness.

We would hate for it to be the end of the road for Vakatawa who is much loved and is a crowd favourite in Nanterre. Not too long ago he was arguably the most damaging centre in the game.

The club stated; “Particularly saddened by this terrible news, Racing 92 gives its full support to Virimi Vakatawa and immediately put in place all the measures to support its emblematic player as best as possible in these particularly difficult times. difficult.” 

Vakatawa is a former Nasinu Secondary School student and player with family roots in Naluwai, Naitasiri.

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He played both rugby league and rugby union as a teenager before representing the Fiji Under 19’s at the age of 17. Former Fiji representative Sireli Bobo scouted him and helped him join the Racing 92 club in 2010 which Virimi has amassed over 140 games since his debut in 2011. In 2020 he was nominated for the 2020 EPCR European Player of the Year award and was also a nomination in our Rakaviti outside centre of the year award in 2021 and one of our centres of the decade.

On the international stage he has represented his adopted nation firstly in Sevens in 80 games since 2013 scoring 61 tries. He was also a member of their 2016 Olympic Games squad.

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Vakatawa made his Senior French team debut in 2016 and has played 30 tests scoring 10 tries including their 2019 Rugby World Cup Campaign and their 2022 Six Nations winning campaign.

The 30 year old is a mercurial talent on his day and we’re sending our best wishes and prayers to Virimi and his family that first he can recover and secondly we would love to see him on the field again one day.

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