To’o Malo Vaega (born August 17, 1965 in Moto’otua, Samoa) is a former Manu Samoa rugby player and is the second most capped player in Samoa’s history. He also played in New Zealand Provincial and Super Rugby teams – Southland, Highlanders and Blues.
Vaega appeared in a 2011 Rugby World Cup MasterCard commercial where he recaps on Samoa’s historic 16-13 victory over Wales at the 1991 Rugby World Cup in Cardiff, Wales.
After Samoa’s debut win against Wales at the 1991 Rugby World Cup, Vaega commemorated Samoa’s success by later naming his newborn son Cardiff.
Vaega made his debut for Samoa (at the time Western Samoa) against Wales on June 14, 1986 at Apia, Samoa. This was Wale’s first encounter with Samoa as part of their South Pacific tour. The visiting team won 32-14.
In 1988, Samoa gained their full IRB membership and marked the occasion with their first tour to Europe. Samoa then competed in a World Cup elimination series in Tokyo, which gave Samoa a place in the 1991 Rugby World Cup. The team they faced in their debut match at the World Cup would be Wales.
Vaega scored the first of Samoa’s two tries, with Sila Vaifale scoring the teams second in Samoa’s historic 16-13 victory over Wales at the 1991 Rugby World Cup. Samoa’s debut game remains one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history. Vaega has participated in three Rugby World Cups during his rugby career playing for Samoa, with his final cap against Ireland on November 11, 2001. He became the second most capped player in Samoa’s history, representing his beloved Samoa an estimated 61 times in a 15 year period.
Vaega played provincial rugby for Southland and Super Rugby for the Highlanders and Blues, during Samoa’s off-seasons. Vaega was an original Highlander in the first Super12 (now Super15) campaign in 1996, and set a franchise record with three tries in a match that year against Western Province, a record he shares with six former Highlanders team-mates to this day.
Highlights & Awards:
- Played for Samoa at the 1991 Rugby World Cup, causing one of the biggest upsets in rugby history while making it to the Quarterfinals
- Credited as the first player to score a try for Samoa at a Rugby World Cup during their debut match against Wales in 1991