Curtain closes on Tana Umaga
One of the greatest rugby players of this-or-any era, Tana Umaga, retired as a top-level player on Saturday afternoon, 62 minutes into Wellington's easy win over Manawatu.
Chris Rattue pays tribute to the ex-All Black skipper:
He's off to France for a princely sum to work as the director of rugby for Toulon, and in that classically downmarket way we pay tribute to sports heroes in this country, Wellington have named aisle 13 at the Cake Tin after him. [...]
[I]f you had to find a best of the best among that quartet of centres [Bruce Robertson, Joe Stanley, Frank Bunce and Umaga], Umaga would be your man because, apart from the elegance of Robertson, he equalled the best attributes of the others and surpassed them elsewhere.
Most significantly, he transformed the standards of the position, adding loose-forward qualities to the centre's game as rugby turned itself into a relentless scrap for possession.
Umaga was a man of limited public words who clearly knew what he valued in life, and doggedly stuck to it. [...]
As he conducted his farewell on Saturday and made a stand opposing violence against children, you suddenly wondered if we had fully realised what a remarkable rugby character has been in our midst. [...]
The wind went out of Umaga's sails the moment he decided to quit international rugby after the 2005 season. But his ship will always sail on. World Cup triumphs have eluded him and you can hunt down a few imperfections. But history will look with increasing awe on Tana Umaga, an enigmatic sporting warrior with that touch of class.
This site would like to offer a hearty thanks to Umaga as a player and continued best wishes for his future in rugby and life. Tana, you deserve it!