Scotland’s World Cup opening game against South Africa on Sunday will have added emotion for Sione Tuipulotu as he aims to make one person in particular proud of his performance.
The Glasgow Warriors centre revealed that his mum has travelled from Australia to see him in action in Marseille, making the World Cup match the first time she has seen her son play since he left Melbourne four years ago.
Tuipulotu, who qualifies for Scotland through his Greenock-born grandmother on his mum’s side, had spells in Japan and New South Wales before signing for Glasgow in 2021 to pursue his dream of making it to the top of the game.
The 26-year-old has made his mark since, earning 19 caps, but his mum has had to watch his career develop from afar, getting up in the middle of the night to watch games on television.
As the Scotland team prepare for their high-profile opening game against defending champions South Africa, Tuipulotu revealed an emotional moment that’s added to his determination to excel at the World Cup.
“My mum’s come over here,” he said, after explaining that the tattoo on his left arm was inspired by his mum playing The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in the house as he grew up.
“She arrived yesterday and it’ll be the first time she’s watched me play rugby for quite a while,” he told STV News.
“I had a chat with her yesterday when she got to Paris. It was actually quite an emotional phone call because she was always calling me from back home.
“She would get up and watch our games and she just said how proud of me she was.
“Obviously it’s her mum that is part of my Scottish heritage and she says she’s really proud when she sees me singing the anthem and she hears the noise of Murrayfield.
“I can’t imagine how she is going to feel this weekend in Marseille when we’re playing the World Cup champions.
“That’s part of my motivation this week so I don’t need any extra motivation because my mum is over. It’s a big game for me and I’m looking forward to it.”
Emotion aside, Sunday’s game marks a major step for Tuipulotu after he made the decision to move to Scotland to further his career. He said he was always confident in his ability but could reflect on his journey and how it’s given him the opportunity to pit himself against the world’s best.
“I would probably be lying to you if I said I didn’t think it was going to be achievable,” he said. “I’ve always been a confident player.
“When I moved over here I told myself that if I was going to move that far away from my family then I was going to make it happen. I suppose you need some things to go your way to make it happen so I do feel lucky in some aspects but I also back my hard work from as soon as I came over here to keep improving as a player.
“It’s been an awesome journey over the last couple of years and I’m just super excited for it to kick off.
“That’s something I always thought of as a kid, that I wanted to be one of the best players in my position in the world. This is the tournament where you get to prove that.
“And there’s no bigger challenge than this weekend. South Africa always have good centres, no matter who gets selected.
“That’s part of the challenge and I definitely back myself to go out there and play my style and hopefully force a bit of our game on to theirs.”