Full name Rupeni Caucaunibuca
Born June 5, 1980, Nabouwalu
Current age 35 years 122 days
Major teams Classic All Blacks, Northland, Pacific Islanders, Toulouse, Fiji
Height 5 ft 11 in
Weight 211 lb
|IRB Rugby World Cup||2003-2003||2||2||0||15||3||0||0||0||0||2||0||0.00|
|Test debut||Argentina v Fiji at Cordoba, Aug 18, 2003 match details|
|Last Test||Australia v Fiji at Canberra, Jun 5, 2010 match details|
|Test Statsguru||Main menu | Career summary | Match list | Most points | Most tries | Tournament list|
Rupeni Caucaunibuca is one of the most colourful characters the game has ever seen, a man whose ability to bamboozle and bewitch opponents on the field is matched only by his ability to bewilder and bemuse coaches off it.
Despite his stocky frame, Caucau, as he is more commonly known, was blessed with a remarkable turn of pace, which, coupled with the soft hands which are seemingly the birthright of every Fijian, made him ideally suited to the game of Sevens. It was while playing the abbreviated version of the game that he was first spotted, by Ratu Kitione Vesikula, who recruited him for Tailevu in 2001.
After rapidly adapting to the 15-man game, he was quickly snapped up by Northland. A Blues call-up quickly followed and he notched twice on his Super rugby debut in 2002. His campaign was cut short by injury but upon his return he set about proving himself one of the best wingers in world rugby. The All Blacks tried to tempt him to switch allegiances but he declined, and instead announced himself as an international star with some scintillating displays for his native Fiji in the 2003 World Cup.
He joined Agen the following year and went on to score 65 tries in 108 appearances for the Top 14 outfit over the next five seasons. However, he repeatedly courted controversy during that spell, both with club and country.
After a series of no-shows for his national team, he was hit with a one-year ban by the Fijian Rugby Union in 2005 for missing a flight to Samoa, with the player claiming that he had been forced to stay at home because his wife had an infected tooth.
His ban was lifted in May 2006 but he then riled his employers at club level by missing that summer's pre-season training camp. However, it then emerged that he had contracted a tropical virus in his homeland and he eventually returned to France in October. Caucau wasted little time in reminding everyone of his brilliance with a man of the match-winning display in Agen's Heineken Cup victory over Edinburgh.
He was named in the Pacific Islands squad for their November tour but he only played in one game after missing the clash with Wales and then failing to locate his passport in time for the game against Ireland.
Caucau suffered a terrible slump in form the following year and he was hit with a three-month ban for testing positive for cannabis following a Top 14 league game against Montauban in March. He ultimately parted company with Agen in 2008 only to rejoin the club after a spell in the wilderness, during which he was linked with a move to Leicester Tigers only for it to allegedly collapse on account of Caucau's failure to turn up for a trial.
He helped Agen win promotion back to the French top flight by notching 13 tries during the 2009/2010 season but was then released by the club after failing to turn up on time for the start of the 2010/2011 campaign.
However, in October it emerged that Caucau had joined reigning Heineken Cup champions Toulouse as a 'medical joker' as they attempted to fill the void left by injured centre Yann David. He enjoyed a successful debut season, helping Toulouse reach the Top 14 final, with the highlight being his brace of tries in the play-offs semi-final win over Clermont Auvergne.