The Toronto Arrows signed Taitusi Vikilani for the 2022 Major League Rugby season. The 25-year-old No.8/flanker is 6’2″ and 250lbs.
Vikilani was born in Tonga and is the older brother of Siaki, who also plays for the Arrows. He played with Burnaby Lake and his performance turned heads in the 2016 Canadian Rugby Championship. He played with the British Columbia Bears senior men’s provincial program and spent the last three years in Rugby Canada’s national development academy program.
Most recently he played for the Pacific Pride in British Columbia’s Coastal Cup, where he helped lead the academy side to a second-place finish (4-1-1 record) in the inaugural year of the competition.
Vikilani comes to the team with some past baggage.
Vikilani was involved in a violent incident in February 2015 while intoxicated that had him punching a female and after her companion intervened, he was stabbed by a man accompanying him.
The man convicted of the stabbing was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison, while Vikilani received three years probation on top of his incarceration of 6 months minus a day. His lawyer stated at the time, “Alcohol changed his character that night, but he hasn’t had a drink since and I doubt very much he’ll ever have a drink again.”
American Rugby News contacted the Arrows who released a statement addressing Vikilani’s past:
“As a teenager, Taitusi made a mistake. He took responsibility for his wrongdoing and paid his debt to society. That debt has helped shape him into the young man he is today; someone who is genuinely remorseful about the pain he has caused has learned from his transgression and has earned a second chance.
“For the past several years, Taitusi has been playing high-performance rugby as part of his rehabilitation into society, including spending the past three years as part of Rugby Canada’s national development academy. Throughout this time, Taitusi has been a model athlete, displaying personal growth through his contrition and commitment to becoming a better person.
“In conducting our due diligence prior to signing Taitusi, members of our senior staff spoke with several of Taitusi’s current and former coaches and teammates. Through dozens of conversations, the feedback we received was consistent across the board: Taitusi is passionate, hard-working, and has demonstrated strong character. He has, by all accounts, been a respected teammate both on and off the pitch.
“Taitusi’s mistake will always remain with him, and he does not hide from this. However, this should not preclude Taitusi from being granted an opportunity to rejoin society, especially based on his personal development over the last many years. We believe Taitusi possesses the values required to be a player for the Toronto Arrows, and that he’ll be an upstanding member of our organization.”
As a result of his conviction, Vikilani is unable to enter the USA and therefore will not compete in Toronto’s road games. He will be available for all home matches and could make his professional debut when the Arrows host the LA Giltinis at Starlight Stadium in Langford on February 11.
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