Thursday, October 21, 2010
Former Las Vegas and potential USA centre doing very well in France
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