Wigan Warriors prop Tyler Dupree reveals American backstory including famous NFL relative

Drew Darbyshire
Tyler Dupree USA England Alamy

Tyler Dupree in action for Wigan Warriors

Eagle-eyed TV viewers of the Challenge Cup final would have spotted a USA flag lay on the floor alongside those of several other nations as celebratory Wigan Warriors players took a nod to their birthplaces and heritage.

The USA flag belonged to Tyler Dupree, who is of proud American heritage through his maternal grandfather ‘Champion Jack’ Dupree, a famous blues singer from New Orleans that toured the world before settling in England, whilst his great uncle, Billy Joe Dupree, won the Super Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys in 1978.

Other flags were celebrated in the sheds at Wembley following Wigan’s win over Warrington, such as Lebanon (Abbas Miski), Samoa (Patrick Mago), Cameroon (Junior Nsemba & Sam Eseh), National Māori flag of New Zealand (Tiaki Chan), Australia (Adam Keighran), Australian Aboriginal (Bevan French) as well as a number of England flags for the club’s homegrown players.

Dupree is a current England international in rugby league, and whilst he is proud of where he was born and raised in Halifax, he also paid homage to his American background.

“To start with, that’s all from Willie Isa, he’s very proud of heritage and very proud of where people have come from and he wants everyone else to be proud of that as well,” Dupree told Love Rugby League. “Until I had a few conversations with him, I reckon I’ve sort of taken where my family’s from for granted.

“I’m proud to play for England but I’m also proud of my family’s heritage in America as well.

“It is a story of adversity, my grandpa coming from slaves and I know if he was still alive today he’d be proud of me so I just want to repay him by showing how proud I am of where is from as well.”

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Dupree has never had the chance to visit his family’s roots in America, but has plans to visit there in the future with his mum and sister.

He added: “I’ve been to Florida but my plan was to go to America and travel around and see where my family are actually from, go to New Orleans and places like that. It is still a plan but I don’t know when that will be, but it will happen.”

The England international has a close relationship with his mother, Jackie, dedicating his successful rugby league career to her.

“Everything I do, I do for my mum,” Dupree said. “It’s a bit of a cliché to say but I work hard because I want to be able to repay my mum.

“I know I’d never be able to repay her but just little stuff I do: I like to show her I’m grateful for everything she’s done and I just want to continue making her proud.”

The Wigan powerhouse prop made his international debut for England in last year’s 64-0 mid-season win over France in Warrington, and won his second England cap in Saturday’s 40-8 victory over their French counterparts in Toulouse.

Dupree added: “It was unexpected (call-up) at that point last year and it felt a bit unexpected this time, but the feeling is the same: I’m proud to represent my country and I’m proud to represent where I’m from.”

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