Mo'unga playing for the Crusaders, May 2017
|Full name||Richard Fou'a Mo'unga|
|Date of birth||25 May 1994|
|Place of birth||Christchurch, New Zealand|
|Height||176 cm (5 ft 9 in)|
|Weight||83 kg (183 lb; 13 st 1 lb)|
|School||St. Andrew's College|
|Rugby union career|
Richard Fou'a Mo'unga (born 25 May 1994) is a New Zealand rugby union player who currently plays as a first five-eighth or fly-half for Canterbury in New Zealand's domestic Mitre 10 Cup, the Crusaders in the international Super Rugby competition, and the All Blacks.
Mo'unga is of Tongan and Samoan descent, his dad Saimone Mo'unga comes from 'Eua in Tonga and his mother Linda Mo'unga comes from Samoa. Mo'unga is one of six children, three boys and three girls. Mo'unga was initially educated at Riccarton High School in his hometown before being offered a scholarship at St. Andrew's College where he played u15 in 2009 then first XV rugby for 3 years and captained them in his senior year (2012). After graduating from high school he began playing for Linwood in the local Canterbury senior club rugby competition while at the same time being a member of the Canterbury Academy.
He was not named as a full member of Canterbury's squad for the 2013 ITM Cup, but in what was just his first year out of high school, he was called up to cover injuries and All Black absences and went on to make 8 appearances during the campaign which culminated in Canterbury defeating Wellington in the Premiership final. He was upgraded to a full-squad member in 2014 and played in 10 matches, featuring both at first five-eighth and fullback as Canterbury fell at the tournament's semi-final stage.
He again made 10 appearances as Canterbury regained their ITM Cup Premiership title in 2015 with a 25-23 win over Auckland in the final.
As a result of his excellent domestic showings for Canterbury, Mo'unga was named in the Crusaders Wider Training Group for the 2015 Super Rugby season. However owing to the presence of the likes of Dan Carter, Colin Slade and Tom Taylor in the Crusaders backline, he did not get any game time in his first season at Super Rugby level.
Nonetheless, the departures of all three players ahead of the 2016 season saw Mo'unga promoted to the full Crusaders squad. He made his debut on 27 February 2016 in a match at home to the Chiefs and went on to start all 16 matches during a season which ended with Crusaders losing 42-25 to the Lions in Johannesburg in the quarter-finals.
He finished the 2017 season as the leading point scorer, scoring 160 points in just 10 games for Canterbury. In the Grand Final against Tasman, Mo'unga broke the record for the most points scored in a final when he scored 25 points (2 tries, 3 conversions & 3 penalties). He was named Man of the Match.
Mo'unga started in all of his 13 games in the 2017 season for the Crusaders. Mo'unga scored 10 points in the 2017 Super Rugby Final in Johannesburg, South Africa against the Lions leading the Crusaders to a 25-17 win and their 8th Super Rugby title. In 2018, Mo'unga started in 12 games for the Crusaders. This included a Man of the Match performance in the Super Rugby Final played in Christchurch, New Zealand where he scored 17 points to lead the Crusaders to their second consecutive title.
Mo'unga represented the Barbarians against New Zealand, on 4 November 2017, at Twickenham Stadium, London. Mo'unga scored 7 points, scoring the game's opening try and also converting a Barbarian try in the 31st minute.
After the Barbarians match, Mo'unga joined the All Blacks for their Northern Tour, having warranted a place in the squad through his play in the Mitre 10 Cup. Mo'unga was named on the bench for a New Zealand XV side for a midweek game against a French XV. He converted a try from lock Patrick Tuipulotu after coming on as a replacement in the second half.
Mo'unga made his official test debut on 23 June 2018 against France during the France test series where he replaced Damian McKenzie in the 69th minute. The All Blacks won 49-14. Mo'unga made his first ever start for New Zealand during Round 3 of the competition, on 8 September 2018. Mo'unga led the All Blacks to a 46-24 victory over Argentina by scoring 16 of the team's points. Mo'unga only missed one kick on the night and lasted the full 80 minutes.
Mo'unga's starting performance against Argentina saw him temporarily overtake Damian McKenzie, as back-up to regular starter Beauden Barrett. This saw Mo'unga feature off the bench against Argentina and South Africa in the final two rounds of the competition. Mo'unga replaced winger Waisake Naholo, in the 51st minute against South Africa, with Ben Smith moved to wing, and Beauden Barrett moved into fullback, to accommodate for Mo'unga at first-five. Mo'unga took kicking duties off Barrett, who had missed a drop goal during the match. Mo'unga converted Ardie Savea's last-minute try, after the 80th minute, winning the game for the All Blacks, making the final result against South Africa 32-30. Mo'unga finished as one of the highest points-scorers of the Rugby Championship, with 24 points. This ranked Mo'unga 6th of all the points-scorers.
Mo'unga remained unable to become a regular starter for New Zealand on the 2018 end-of-year tour. After replacing McKenzie in the third Bledisloe Cup test, against Australia, in a 37-20 win, Mo'unga earned a start against Japan on 3 November. Mo'unga scored 22 points during New Zealand's 69-31 win over Japan, including his first international try. Mo'unga stayed on for the full 80 minutes, with debutant first-five, Brett Cameron, instead replacing Waisake Naholo, although Utility Back, Jordie Barrett, did kick some goals towards the end of the test against Japan, in which Mo'unga was one of the best-performers.
He made an appearance in every test on the end-of-year tour, coming off the bench in the final three, which were wins against England and Italy, as well as a 9-16 loss to Ireland.
Mo'unga had a poor start to the 2019 Super Rugby season, beginning the season with a low kicking percentage. Despite his poor start to the season, Mo'unga eventually kicked on, finishing the Crusaders' "three-peat" season as one of the competition's highest points-scorers, second only to Handré Pollard from the Bulls. Mo'unga scored 20 points in the semi-final, as well as 14 points in the final, which was a win over the Jaguares.
Named in the All Blacks' squad for the 2019 Rugby Championship, Mo'unga was named at first-five-eighth after starting fullback Damian Mckenzie was ruled out of the tournament with an ACL injury. The All Blacks starting five-eighth, Beauden Barrett was subsequently shifted to fullback, as part of a continuation of the dual-playmaker system, while Waisake Naholo was dropped from the national setup entirely to make room for Mo'unga and Barrett's combination. After New Zealand's 16-16 draw with South Africa and record 26-47 loss to Australia the Mo'unga and Barrett combination was criticised in New Zealand widely. With many fans and media alike both favouring the experience of veteran Ben Smith at fullback, and 2 time player of the year, Beauden Barrett, at first-five-eighth. However, Mo'unga grabbed a 14-point haul against Australia in the second Bledisloe Cup test against Australia for the year, before being replaced by Jordie Barrett. The 36-0 win over Australia saw Mo'unga sustain a shoulder injury, which ruled him out for one test, against Tonga.
On 28 August 2019, All Blacks Head Coach, Steve Hansen, named Mo'unga as one of 31 players selected in New Zealand's squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Mo'unga was named as only specialist first-five-eighth named in the squad, with the injured Damian McKenzie, as well as single-cap All Blacks, Brett Cameron and Josh Ioane missing out. Mo'unga started at first-five eighth throughout the tournament, winning the man-of-the-match award against Canada. After a solid display against Ireland in the quarter finals, Mo'unga and the All Blacks were knocked out of the 2019 Rugby World Cup at the semi finals against England, losing 19-7. Mo'unga was retained at first-five for the third place play-off, where he led them to a 40-17 victory over Wales.
In 2019, Mo'unga and his partner, Sophie Vieceli, announced their engagement on social media.
Mo'unga is good friends with his former All Blacks, Crusaders and Canterbury teammate, Owen Franks, whom he is related to through his partner. Mo'unga cited Franks' exclusion from the 2019 Rugby World Cup as "an empty feeling".