A roaring Tokyo Stadium is a far cry from the dry paddocks that are the Brisbane State High School playing fields at Carina.
It’s been a wild twelve years since Will Tupou played his final game for BSHS alongside now-Wallaby Matt To’omua where they finished second behind James Slippers TSS side in the the 2007 Brisbane GPS competition.
Tupou’s perfroamces were rewarded with a selction in the Queensland I side, to travel to Canberra for the ASRU Australian School Championships. Playing in a side riddled with future professional stars including; Slipper, To’omua, James O’Connor, Ben Tapuai and Jake Schatz they sailed home in Tuggeranong against NSW II.
Australian selection wasn’t to be for Will Tupou though, missing the cut and the opportunity to play against New Zealand, Samoa and England.
He signed with the Broncos U20s post-school before moving to Townsville where he made 32 appearances for the Cowboys in the NRL between 2010 and 2011.
The State High son returned to rugby, attaining 13 Super Rugby caps for the Western Force despite constant injury.
Tupou left Western Australia in 2014 spurred on a life changing move to Japan where he’s played for two Japanese Top League sides as well as the Sunwolves.
He and his wife fell in love with the land of the rising sun and live there happily with their two children now.
He’s had the opportunity to push the sport and the national team forward in a way many would never have predicted.
After attaining eligibility in 2017, Tupou made his test debut for Japan the same year against Ireland, conceding seven tries in Irelands 50 – 22 drumming off the Brave Blossoms.
Fast forward two years and 10 tests expeience he was selected to play for his new home at the Rugby World Cup, starting at fullback against Russian and Scotland.
It’s an experience money can’t buy. He’s been a part of the squad that has dropped jaws of rugby and non-rugby fans alike with an exciting brand of rugby that’s knocked off some of the world’s best. Not only that but he’s done it alongside his Brisbane State High compatriot, James Moore who graduated three years after him in 2010.
Whilst the 2019 fairy tale didn’t end in the way some hoped it none the less shone the light on hard work, a well-run Japanese engine and a little bit of ingenuity.
While the Wallabies is and hopefully will always be the pinnacle of rugby for Australian’s, Tupou’s story is an excellent testimony of finding one’s place in the world and excelling despite setbacks.
The Australian Schools Rugby Union looks forward to seeing where his career goes from here.