FORMER Nadi rep Ilaitia Savai described the late legendary Sanivalati Laulau as a tough rugby player and coach who always strived for the best.
Laulau, who was born in Uto, Bila in Nadi, was laid to rest at Nawaka Village yesterday.
The winger passed away earlier this week, a month before his 60th birthday.
Many former rugby players who played or were coached by Laulau attended the funeral.
However the major disappointment was the non-attendance of representatives from the Fiji Rugby Union.
Teammate and former FRU selector Ilami Lutumailagi stepped up to give the eulogy on FRU's behalf.
Former minister for sports Ponipate Lesavua said the ministry approved Laulau's travel to Australia in 1999 for coaching accreditation.
He said Laulau always represented Nawaka wherever he went.
Lesavua said Laulau would be best remembered for his hard work in grooming many rugby players from the village.
"We are disappointed that there was no official from the FRU who attended the funeral," Lesavua said.
"This really hurt everyone in the village. Laulau gave so much to rugby. He was a world renowned figure. He not only represented Fiji but coached the national team as well. And yet the FRU failed to acknowledge him for his services. The Nawaka Village has always supported FRU in billeting overseas teams."
Former players who attended the funeral included Asaeli Hughes, Joe Caqusau, Epeli Turuva, Uraia Toga, Sakaraia Nacaka, Viliame Damu, Samu Vunivalu, Savenaca Aria, Apisai Nagata, Api Naevo, Sailosi Nawavu, Joe Caucau, Ilia Koroitamana, Ponipate Bainivalu and Vatili Tuisabeto.
Laulau earned 34 Test caps in the national jumper.