Rupeni Caucaunibuca's name is synonymous with speed, power and aggression. The Fijian winger has stunned rugby fans the world over, and is considered one of the greats
Major teams: Northland, Auckland Blues, Agen, Toulouse
Test span: 2003-10
Fiji caps: 7 (7starts)
Pacific Islanders caps: 1 (1 start)
Test points: 50 (10T)
Known universally as Caucau, the Fijian wing ranks second only to Jonah Lomu for his ability to astound on the pitch. After starting out in sevens, Caucau first came to the attention of global audiences at RWC 2003 with Fiji, although not before he’d shunned All Black advances after a scintillating season with the Blues.
First, there was a sensational 60m solo try against France, before being yellow-carded for fighting – a sign of things to come. Next, against Scotland, he scored within two minutes with an audacious finish in the corner. His second try was even more outrageous as he skipped and sidestepped past flailing Scots defenders from Fiji’s 22, leading the commentator to exclaim, “Give it to Caucau and he is go-go, gone!”
It led to a shell-shocked Chris Paterson saying: “He can be the world’s best player, the type who can win a game almost on his own.”
After the World Cup, the chequebooks were out for his signature, and he plumped for Agen in the Top 14, where he stayed for five helter-skelter years, scoring 65 tries. In this period, his Test appearances were fleeting, though his scoring ratio never diminished.
Caucau was almost as famous for his off-field indiscipline as his on-field play. Stories would drift over the Channel that Caucau had gone missing back in Fiji and was infuriating coaches but, more often than not, he’d return with a big smile, turn in a match-winning display and be forgiven. Similarly he’d frustrate national coaches and his charge sheet included a one-year ban for missing training camps and a three-month ban for testing positive for cannabis.
After a spell at Toulouse, during which he propelled them into the Top 14 final with a semi-final brace v Clermont, he returned to Agen before leaving France last year. He was last heard of playing in Sri Lanka and proclaimed an interest in playing at the 2016 Olympics. A one-off.