|Tomás Vallejos will play in Japan|
with the Coca Cola West Red Sparks
The lock from Rosario will now play in his fourth country since leaving Argentina to play for Overmach Parma in 2007. Vallejos has not followed the typical Argentine route of finding a club in France in his career, but rather started out in the Eccelenza in Italy before signing for Harlequins in 2010 as mid season injury cover. It was at Harlequins where he managed to work his way into the Argentina national team set up before the 2011 Rugby World Cup and he has remained in the Pumas setup ever since through to the Rugby Championship last year where he played in La Plata off the bench against the All Blacks.
Vallejos was on the bench for the Harelquins in the 2012 Aviva Premiership Final but due to his commitments with Argentina he would not continue with the English champions and instead signed for the Llanelli based Scarlets where he mae his debut on October 26 2012 against Edinburgh, playing 75 minutes. He would play in three other matches for the Scarlets before making a decision to link up with the Daniel Hourcade coached Pampas XV squad for the 2013 Vodacom Cup. The move saw him debut for the Argentine team in the first round in a secondrow combination with Mariano Galarza. Both Vallejos and Galarza are Pumas squad members and were a part of the squad for Rugby World Cup 2011. At the tournament Vallejos debuted against Georgia. The pair are currently back-up´s to the regulars of Patricio Albacete, Manuel Carizza and Julio Farías Cabello, while Stade Français´ youngster, Juan Cruz Guillemain may be set to be called up to the test side this year.
After the Vodacom Cup Vallejos will join up with the promoted Coca Cola West Red Sparks and become the second Argentine to play in the Top League. Some years ago backrower Federico Boffi of La Plata RC played there while studying to become a doctor. At the West Sparks, Vallejos will play alongside some big name players including Samoan internationals Jonny Fa'amatuainu and the controversial Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu.
The move to Japan is an interesting one, and with Argentines now much less popular signings for French teams with the likes of Montpellier who had numerous Argentines now getting rid, Vallejos may not be the last Argentine to play in Japan. There are clear inconveniences now for Argentines to play in Europe with the Rugby Championship lasting up until early October. Whilst previously a side like Montpellier would just be missing their Argentines for one month of the season in November.
The ideal tournament for Argentines to play is Super Rugby, with the domestic schedule suited to the one that the Argentina national team now play. But contracts there are hard to come by with relatively few foreigners in the tournament compared to Europe.
Meanwhile, Japan has much more foreigners in the Top League and unlike Europe their season fits better with the international schedule of Argentina and also offers lucrative pay which has attracted some of the world's best players such as Jerome Kaino, Sonny Bill Williams and Fourie du Preez to give up their international careers to play there. It is also possible for a player to play most of a season in the Top League and then play a full season in the Vodacom Cup with the Pampas XV.
So if an Argentine joins a Japanese team, they should be able to feature in every Pumas match of the year and not have to miss matches and choose between club and country and also get well paid and well rested. The convenience of Japan is clear, and Vallejos may not be the last Puma to play there with one other possibility being Patricio Albacete. The Toulouse veteran has previously said he would like to play in Japan one day.