Thursday, October 21, 2010

Former Las Vegas and potential USA centre doing very well in France

After two rounds of the 2010-2011 Amlin Challenge Cup, a certain 29 year old former Las Vegas player is on fire having scored tries for Montpellier in both of the teams first two matches. In round one Seta Tuilevuka scored a crucial try in Montpellier´s away win vs the newly promoted English premiership club, Exeter Chiefs. Montpellier won the match 20-13. In round two Montpellier defeated English premiership club Newcastle Falcons 32-8 with Seta Tuilevuka scoring a try as he again started at 13. Argentine flyhalf / centre Santiago Fernández played 10. The win puts Montpellier in control of the group as the only undefeated side of the four teams. The next game is at home vs Bourgoin in December as the Amlin Challenge Cup takes a break for the Top 14 and the November international rugby matches. Montpellier currently lie in third place in the Top 14 and coincidently will host Bourgoin on saturday in round 10 of the Top 14.

Born in Fiji, Tuilevuka is a 29 year old who is new to professional rugby after making the move from the Las Vegas Black Jacks in the United States to Montpellier this season. Seta Tuilevuka initially went to Las Vegas, Nevada to live with his brother Colin when he was 23. Colin played for the club as a winger. Seta played for the club for around four years alongside Colin and another Tuilevuka, brother Alipate who played international rugby for the USA. The trio were part of a very successful Sevens team.

Tom Carter from the club commented that "We have a very large Fijian community in Las Vegas. When we first saw Seta, we knew he was a special talent. Myself and my other Club member, Herve Gregoire-Mazzocco had both played pro in Europe in Ireland, England and France. So we knew that Seta could play to that standard. Seta worked with me for a while and dreamed of playing pro rugby. So after the 2009 season we decided to contact some old friends in Europe and send them video footage of Seta. As they say, 'the rest is history'"

Without question the form of Seta Tuilevuka for Montpellier puts him in line for a call up to the USA Eagles. Having lived for more than three years in the USA, he meets the IRB's eligibility criteria to represent the United States. His move to Mediterranean France is part one of a partnership agreement between the Las Vegas Blackjacks and Montpellier which will see the clubs trade players. The long-term goal of the agreement is to have talented young players from both clubs get experience playing abroad. Montpellier are to send players to play in Las Vegas who are deemed to be possibly needing something to jump-start their careers due to not getting sufficient game time in the Top 14 or the Amlin Challenge Cup. All players involved will still be paid by Montpellier.

The initiative was created by Las Vegas assistant Herve Gregoire-Mazzocco, who played many years in France, mostly for Clermont Auvergne, as well as in Italy and the UK. Gregoire-Mazzocco is responsible for Tuilevuka joining Montpellier as he called different clubs in which he has contacts and convinced Montpellier to sign him. Montpellier backs coach Jean-Phillippe Lacoste, commented that the club has a desire to start up overseas academies: “Some European teams just have the big bucks and use that to bring in well-known players, but Montpellier is different. Their policy is to look for the rare gems no one else has found and give them a chance. It has worked very well for them.”

With thanks to Tom Carter and everybody at www.lasvegasblackjacksrugby.com and to Dallen 'Paki' Stanford at www.eaglesxv.com



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