Ilivasi Sevia Tabua Tamanivalu
- 709Wallaby Number
Ilie Tabua (pronounced ‘Tumbua’) arrived on the international scene late in his career but made a devastating impact in his short time in Wallaby gold. Powerfully built, Tabua was a rampaging loose forward who, at 190 cms and 107 kgs, used his physique fearlessly in bone crushing tackles, charging runs, and as a more than useful third option at the back of the lineout.
Born in Fiji, Tabua was educated at Marist Brothers’ High School in Suva before he moved to Australia in 1980. He linked up with the GPS Club in Brisbane however it took him more than a decade to emerge as a Wallaby contender.
In 1988 Tabua was deported after he overstayed his visa. Tabua returned to Fiji, came to the attention of the national selectors and in 1990 made his Test debut against Japan. Chris Carberry, Wallaby #563, fought successfully to gain a visa for Tabua to re-enter Australia only to find that he linked up with the Teachers-Norths club (later Norths) instead of GPS.
In 1992 Tabua made his debut for Queensland against Canterbury at Lancaster Park in freezing conditions and ended the game suffering from hypothermia. The following year national coach Bob Dwyer looked for an impact player to replace the injured Willie Ofahengaue. Tabua was to be that man and he made his debut against South Africa in Brisbane. Tabua caused havoc among the Springboks, particularly on the short side. He tackled ferociously, pulled off at least half a dozen huge hits, and was named Man of the Match.
In 1995 he suffered a knee injury in the first State of the Union match against New South Wales which ended his season. After he recovered from knee surgery Tabua ended his association with Australia and returned to play for Fiji. He finished his playing career by representing Fiji at the 1999 Rugby World Cup.
Tabua played 10 Tests for Australia in his three-year Wallaby international career.
Represented Australia at the Sevens Rugby World Cup in Edinburgh. Tabua won his first Test cap as the starting blindside flanker in the 2nd Test, 28-20 victory over South Africa in Brisbane. He was capped in each of the next three internationals but broke his arm in the 1st Test, 13-16 loss to France in Bordeaux.
Tabua played four Tests, all at home, against Ireland (2) and Italy (2) but missed the final two matches against Western Samoa and New Zealand due to a shoulder injury. He scored his first Test try in the 1st Test, 33-13 win against Ireland in Brisbane.
Tabua was selected to his first Rugby World Cup and started the two pool games against Canada and Romania.