The Laulu-Togaga’e family have been celebrating this week as the father-son duo of dad Quentin (36) and son Phoenix (17) achieved the extremely rare feat of playing professional rugby league together over the weekend.
The pair were both on the pitch for the closing stages of a pre-season friendly between Bradford Bulls and Keighley Cougars on Saturday, turning out for the Cougars in a hard-fought 22-18 defeat.
Phoenix, who turns 18 in April, is a full-back like his father, and part of the Leicester Tigers academy.
Quentin, an Auckland-born Samoan international, has enjoyed a storied career in league since arriving on these shores back in 2011.
He scored a remarkable 183 tries in 210 appearances until he left for Toronto Wolfpack in 2017. Spells with Halifax, Castleford Tigers and Newcastle Thunder followed, all under the admiring glance of his son.
Phoenix took up rugby league with amateur outfit Sheffield Hawks at the age of five, first played rugby union aged 11 and told leicestertigers.com: “My dad has basically taught me all I know about rugby in general but my school coaches were the ones who taught me how to play rugby union.
“My dad and my whole family plays rugby and it’s a big part of my Samoan heritage.”
Originally an outside centre and an admirer of Quade Cooper growing up, Phoenix moved to full-back when he played First XV at school.
Speaking after their memorable afternoon, Quentin explained how the move came about to The Yorkshire Post.
He said: “I would never have thought I’d have the opportunity to play with my son like this, but I’m still in decent shape and I feel good.
“He’s with Leicester Tigers’ academy and their season got cancelled just after new year so that means they won’t play any games.
“I contacted our coach at Keighley, Rhys Lovegrove, just to see if he could come train with us, just for his own development.
“But he said why don’t we sign him as a squad player and if we think he’s good enough he’s then in position to play?
“I asked Leicester and they were really happy with it as it meant he could play some form of rugby as otherwise he wouldn’t be playing for a full year.
“I was really thankful to them and Keighley – Rhys and the owner Mick O’Neill – for allowing it to happen.”
Whether Phoenix will play rugby league long-term remains to be seen, but the Cougars announced he had signed a one-year contract on Monday so we could well see the pair turning out together much more in 2021.
While not entirely uncommon in the amateur game, the only other occasion which has seen a father-son combination play professional rugby league together in the UK was in 2013 when father, Brad Hepi, and his son Tyla played alongside eachother for Gloucestershire All Golds
Former Great Britain prop Jeff Grayshon, who retired aged 45, did share the field with his son Paul in the 80s and 90s but they were on opposing sides with Jeff playing for Featherstone and Paul a Bradford Northern player.
In the Australian game, Ed Courtney played alongside his son, Ed Jr. for 2 games in 1924. They played for the Wests Magpies.
– picture credits to jonny @ keighley cougars