Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Rugby Championship Players to Watch - Tomás De La Vega

Argentina´ recent home tests vs Italy and France served as a chance for fringe players to show their worth with permanent places in the Argentine international team on the line. One player to stand up and really impress was 21 year old backrower, Tomás De La Vega. Argentina fielded no European based players in the backrow in the three tests to enable players based in the Northern Hemisphere sufficient time to recover  as well as trying to create depth in the position. The experiment was an overall success with the South Americans doing well in the first two tests. De La Vega was on the bench vs Italy and started the test vs France in Córdoba in the 7 shirt going head-to-head with Fulgence Ouedraogo. He produced a career changing performance in Córdoba which is certain to now only have earned him a place in Argentina´ squad for The Rugby Championship but also a place in the starting lineup. 

In taking on Ouedraogo, De La Vega did something rarely seen in a Pumas shirt - Argentina had a genuine openside flanker. One of Argentina´s shortcomings has been the teams method of playing its backrowers in that it Argentina has not been able to find a suitable fetching backrower. De La Vega demonstrated vs France that he is a fetcher in competing well at the breakdown. He also stood out for his tackling and acted well as a ball carrier. De La Vega was the standout player as he did what the best players in his position do - be highly visible, constantly involved in play. His mobility is something Argentina have been lacking and the skills look set to give Santiago Phelan a backrow with speed and constrasting skills to be more competitive and move away from the Pumas stereotypical lpay of slowing down the ball. The combination looks set to consist of 8 Juan Fernández Lobbe, 7 Juan Leguizamón, 6 Tomás De La Vega. With Alvaro Galindo or Leonardo Senatore providing cover from the bench. 

Tomas De La Vega Argentina's Tomas de La Vega makes a move towards the Welch defense during a 2010 IRB World Junior Championship 5th Place Semi Final rugby match between Wales and Argentina at the CA Colon stadium on June 17, 2010 in Santa Fe, Argentina.
Tomás De La Vega vs Wales
2010 IRB Junior World Championship
De La Vega is a player that has come through the Argentine system. He is a former under 19 and under 20 player, having played in the 2009 and 2010 IRB Junior World Championships. He was quickly noticed as a player of significant talent as Santiago Phelan saw that he was a part of the Los Jaguares side that played in the 2010 Americas Rugby Championship in Córdoba. In that tournament De La Vega played for what is the Argentina A side against the A sides from the USA and Tonga. He was then named in the Los Pampas XV squad for the 2011 Vodacom Cup in South Africa. De La Vega was just 20 years old, significantly younger than the other backrowers in the squad and he went on to play in five matches in the Vodacom Cup. Upon returning to Argentina as a champion, De La Vega made his test debut playing for Argentina in the country´ wins over Chile and Uruguay in May 2011. The following month he was selected for Los Jaguares and playing in the 2011 IRB Nations Cup in South Africa, taking on Georgia, Portugal and Romania. 

The IRB Nations Cup tournament underlined his credentials but he was too young and lacked experience to be considered for Rugby World Cup 2011. He continued to train under the PladAR system in Argentina and after being named again in the Los Pampas XV squad, De La Vega was one of ten Argentine based players awarded with a professional contract with the UAR. Since then De La Vega has gone from being an unheard of player to someone who outplayed a highly respected French flanker. He was named in the 33 man squad that is currently training in the United States of America in a High Performance facility. De La Vega has played five test matches in his short international career. 

Argentina vs France, Córdoba, June 2012

Week Three: Marcelo Bosch
Week Four: Agustín Creevy
Week Eight: Rodrigo Roncero
Week Nine: Gonzalo Camacho
Week Ten: Patricio Albacete
Week Eleven: Horacio Agulla
Week Twelve: Juan Figallo
Week Thirteen: Santiago Fernández
Week Fourteen: Tomás Cubelli 
Week Fifteen: Marcos Ayerza
Week Sixteen: Manuel Carizza
Week Seventeen: Nicolás Vergallo
Week Eighteen: Juan José Imhoff
Week Nineteen: Alvaro Galindo
Week Twenty: Maximilano Bustos
Week Twenty-One: Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga
Week Twenty-Two: Julio Farías Cabello
Week Twenty-Three: Tomás De La Vega
Week Twenty-Four: Juan Pablo Orlandi

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