The youngest of six brothers in the Samoan rugby dynasty to have played for Leicester Tigers, Manu Tuilagi has had a glittering career for both club and country.
Having four older siblings, who have all represented Samoa, it was no surprise that this firecracker of a rugby player quickly found a passion for the sport.
He moved to the UK as a teenager to follow his brothers on their respective career paths, before joining Rumney RFC’s youth setup.
Shortly after, he moved to Leicester to join the Tigers’ academy at 15. He made his first official appearances for the Tigers in 2009, but his first season with the senior side was the 2010-11 season where he quickly became an established first-team regular.
Flying his way through the England ranks, he played for the U16 and U18 age group teams, making a hugely physical impact along the way.
He became England’s youngest Rugby World Cup player at just 20 years, beating previous record holder Jonny Wilkinson.
He scored England’s try in the memorable 2019 Rugby World Cup semi-final win over New Zealand before being involved in the final defeat by South Africa.
Tuilagi left Leicester in 2020 to join Premiership rivals Sale Sharks.
One of the country’s biggest rugby hotbeds will soon have didi rugby classes on its doorstep.
The amazing city of Bristol is the latest venue for a launch of didi rugby and classes are expected to start later in the summer.
Led by a local family team, the Gully’s, Rochelle, Simon and Tyler say they can’t wait to start encouraging the next generation of rugby players to an area that has generated some of the country’s most famous players.
didi rugby Bristol leads
“I was introduced to rugby by my husband and have enjoyed watching him play for two decades,” said Rochelle.
“It was inevitable that the kids would love it too, so I have spent most Sundays in wellies and a raincoat being a supportive rugby mum.
“I can honestly say that being part of the rugby community has given our family a physical and emotional outlet, a shared love and a fantastic social circle.
“We have made life-long friends thanks to rugby and I am really looking forward to supporting a new generation of rugby parents to inspire their little ones to be brave and have fun.”
didi rugby CEO, Vicky Macqueen added: “We’re very excited for our new didi Bristol launch. More young children will now have the opportunity to get involved in our incredible sport.
“Having dozens of venues across the country means that more and more children will be able to get active, have fun, enjoy sport and grow in confidence.
“Simon and Rochelle have been big advocates of didi rugby sine we first launched classes in the Midlands and it is great to have them on board.”
Venues and launch times for Bristol sessions will follow soon.
didi rugby Bromley and Newcastle
Bristol will follow hot on the footsteps of two more new venues; didi rugby Bromley and Newcastle.
Bromley are hoping to offer first taster sessions on Saturday 6 August, with Newcastle’s launch likely to be early September.
Bromley classes will be led by former England Women’s rugby captain Maxine Edwards.
While Sophie and Hattie Elliott-Edwards will bring loads of energy and excitement to classes in the north-east.
We can guarantee anyone heading to any of our three new venues, that their children will be in very good hands and will be learning to have fun and grow in confidence in safe and positive environments.
If you would like to put your child’s name down for a free taster session, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and follow didi rugby on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more details.
You can also keep up to date by following both new areas Facebook pages at…
Rachael Burford has made a massive impact on the world of rugby with a stellar club and international career.
A centre for Harlequins and with 84 caps for England, Rachael has played the game at the top level for more than a decade.
Coming from a rugby-playing family, Rachael first picked up a ball at the age of just six and went on to play in the same team as her mum and sister for a season at Medway RFC, where she stayed for the first 10 years of her career.
Having learned at first hand the benefits of picking up a rugby ball from a young age, it is no surprise that Rachael wanted to help promote the values and activities of didi rugby.
The Burford Academy
With a coaching academy of her own called The Burford Academy, Rachael recognises that girls’ rugby doesn’t always receive the coverage it deserves.
Rachael said: “We are both passionate about rugby and being healthy and looking after kids. We are trying to link the Burford Academy with didi rugby in more sessions around the country.”
She is determined to be a strong role model to girls who aspire to play rugby. Her academy improves girls’ skills and knowledge of the game. She is certainly intent on helping bring on the next generation.
didi ambassador – Rachael Burford
In a well-decorated career, Rachael had already played in two Sevens World Cups and two at XVs level, before she was part of the winning team in France in 2014, a year which saw her go on to become England’s Player of the Year.
The respect for her knowledge and achievements within the game led to her becoming the first female professional player to make it to the RPA Players’ Board in 2016.
And then she featured in every match for England during the 2017 Six Nations Grand Slam and the 2017 World Cup which saw England lose their crown in a titanic tussle with New Zealand.
That same year also saw her win the International Rugby Players’ Association merit award alongside All Black skipper Richie McCaw.
Rachael received a full-time England XVs contract in January 2019, playing in the squad that won the Grand Slam in the Women’s Six Nations.
Born in Nuneaton, just up the road from the central hub of didi rugby, Vicky Fleetwood is one of England’s most decorated players.
The 31-year-old hooker has 79 caps for her country and plays for Saracens in the Allianz Women’s Premier XVs.
As a child, she was the UK’s top junior hurdler but eventually got into rugby as a player at the age of 14 after being tired of watching her brother play.
Coming from the same Leicestershire School as England international and didi rugby ambassador Manu Tuilagi, Vicky played for Lichfield before moving to Saracens after England’s World Cup final in 2014.
Despite making her England debut in 2011, she raced to 50 caps in just four years.
More recently, Vicky played an important role in the path to success for her country in the 2021 autumn internationals.
Having had prior experience in personal training and diet and nutrition advising, she has now acquired the title of being a professional rugby player.
didi rugby ambassador
Vicky became a didi ambassador because the ethics and ideals of didi rugby are perfect for children’s development.
“I am a huge supporter of didi rugby because I think it is a fantastic way of getting children involved in sport and being active from such a young age. That is vital to their future development,” she said.
“Not only do didi’s staff work on their core skills such as handling, co-ordination and balance during educational games, they will also learn the values of rugby like respect and teamwork.
“In turn, this will build their confidence in their everyday life whether the children go on to play rugby or not. didi rugby will be a positive experience for everyone who gets involved.”