After a breakthrough season which saw him called into Scotland’s Six Nations training squad, Glasgow Warriors winger Ratu Tagive has signed a two-year contract extension that will keep him at Scotstoun until at least the summer of 2022. The Australia-born 28-year-old is the thirteenth player to sign a new deal of contract extension this season, with Glasgow looking beyond Dave Rennie’s departure at the end of the season. Rennie, the current Warriors coach, leaves to become Wallaby head coach, and will be replaced by current Scotland forwards coach Danny Wilson.
Tagive made his debut for Glasgow in 2017, and signing again with the club was an easy decision, says the wing. “I came across Leone Nakarawa’s interview when he re-signed with the club, and he said that of all the places he could have chosen around the world, the Warriors were the team that initially gave him a crack before he announced himself, and I guess I felt the same way,” said Tagive. “They were the team that gave me a second crack at having a professional sporting career, so I couldn’t see myself going anywhere else, to be honest.”
Tagive, the younger brother of Rugby League legend and NFL hopeful Peni Tagive, started off his career in in Australian Rugby League with Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and then Wests Tigers. However, with eight siblings and a mother whose gambling addiction made family life borderline impossible, Tagive quit Rugby League and moved to Canberra to go to university. Working as a porter, he satisfied his rugby cravings by playing for Union side Queanbeyan Whites, only for his standout performances to quickly see him drawn into the orbit of the Brumbies.
But when Glasgow came calling, the endorsement of his fellow Fijian-heritage Aussie wing Taqele Naiyaravoro – who had played with Tagive at Wests Tigers before switching to Union and playing for the Waratahs and Glasgow Warriors before ending up at Northampton Saints – swung it for Tagive. When he arrived on Clydeside, he says he found a family environment that has persuaded him to make a short-term experiment into a long-term stay.
“When we came across from Australia initially there was a lot of fear involved with moving halfway across the world, not knowing anyone and all that,” he said. “But I remember when I met Richie Vernon for the first time, he said ‘Look mate, let me know if there’s anything that you need, and I’m here if you need any chat about fitting in or places to move to’. I was scared coming to Glasgow and not knowing anyone, but now it just feels like home.”
His decision to sign on for another two years is, however, about more than just feeling comfortable in the city. Until recently, he was classed as an overseas player, and with Pro14 teams allowed to have just two of those in the matchday squad he struggled to get gametime. However, with his change of status and the subsequent break into the Scotland scene, the powerful 6ft 3in wing has become an increasingly regular starter for his club, and even featured in two Champions Cup matches this season. His international aspirations underpin his decision to sign on for another tour of duty at Scotstoun.
“My aspirations are pushing for all those achievements,” he said. “It’s been a bit of a breakout year for me but I’m still establishing myself and I’m not one of those players who has the luxury of knowing they’ll be starting. Look at all the guys who were at the World Cup – there’s Niko [Matawalu], DTH [van der Merwe], Tommy [Seymour] and Steyno [Kyle Steyn] has made his Scotland debut now as well – so there’s a lot of competition. But the aspiration is to put your hand up and try to start every week, and then take that form into the international circuit. That’s where my mind is for the next year at least.”
For the moment, though, Tagive is just looking forward to the day when he can get back to actually playing rugby. Being on lockdown is, he admits, a surreal experience, but there are options to break the tedium. Players are competitive beings, so he and the rest of the Warriors are indulging in Skype competitions pushing up speakers, big bags “or whatever we can find”, while chin-up and push-up challenges are constant. And despite daily calls to a large, diverse family that is based everywhere from the States and Australia to “back home in Fiji”, he still feels that he is at home.