Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Can this Tiger bite back?

The news that Agulla has signed from Leicester Tigers brings the question -can this Tiger live up to the hope and expectations rather than the disappointment of the other ex-Tigers?

It is safe to say that the trio of Tigers players who were drafted in over the last couple of years failed to live up to the hype and expectations and led to a sense of disappointment. The signing of Moody, Vesty and Hipkiss came with so much hope that they could help strengthen the squad returning Bath back to the dominant force then once were, unfortunately as we are all too aware this failed to live up to its billing I do not doubt the calibre of the trio of Tigers ex-pats, they do not get the accolades and respect for nothing. The feeling amongst The Bath Rugby Fans was that they were no longer required by Tigers as opposed to 'looking for a new Challenge'.

For Bath to snare the captain of England and to see him pull on the Blue, Black and White jersey was for some a monumental signing. Lewis Moody a huge stalwart in The England team, a World cup winner and now captaining his country, is a man who is passionate about the game and shows it with the way he throws his self into the game playing with 100% commitment. Sadly it seemed Tigers were being quite savvy by cutting Moody loose, due to his passion and commitment he’d become prone to injury as Bath soon discovered. In the little under two years he spent in the Bath colours he only managed to muster up 15 appearances and managed to score a try in one of those fixtures. By the time he arrived at the Rec his body had taken so much punishment that it was only a matter of time before it could do no more. He will always be a true hero and inspiration on and off the field to so many, old or young. A sad occasion when he had to hang up his boots and a travesty we never saw the 'true' Lewis Moody perform at the Rec!

Following Moody down from Welford road was Sam Vesty, both starting at the beginning of the 2010/11 season. There was much surprise and trepidation to Vesty's move as he has what you consider to have Tiger blood running through his veins. A fourth generation Tiger following his father's, grandfather's and great grandfather's footsteps, working his way up through the ranks from academy to the first 15. Vesty also holds a handful of English caps to his name, but with the introduction of Toby Flood he soon began to slip down the pecking order. So for first team rugby becoming harder to obtain an option to join Moody in the move seemed a wise choice. While at the Rec so far it’s fair to say he has had quite an indifferent time. Saving Bath's blushes on several occasions with boot and tries, but has not had a regular run and struggled with form. Fighting for a place and kicking duties with the likes of of Barkley, Heathcote and Donald (when fit) at times he's failed to make his mark.

The next Tiger player to hit the hallowed turf of Bath was Dan Hipkiss following his fellow band member Sam Vesty. Hipkiss was a true stalwart at Leicester being the player who had scored the winning try for Tigers against Sarries in the 2010 Aviva premiership final Potentially a strong signing with 150 points in 130 appearances for Tigers, representing England at all levels from U18 to gaining 15 first team caps. So could Bath be getting a dynamic and slick centre? Answer-sadly not fulfilled that calling. With his first season completed but only 13 showings for Bath and just the one try, the potential class signing has fallen short and delivered very little. With new players entering the frame and him not shining the way we know he can will he get much of a shout next season?

Now enter Horacio Agulla! The 27 year old Argentine has spent the last two season impressing with his pace, skill and strength, using it to administer some bullocking runs resulting on him gaining the 'fans player of the season'. He's represented Argentina in the past two world cups, gaining two third place medals. Leicester has decided due to work permit and him not being available until October to release Agulla to Bath. Leicester opted due to his commitments to Argentina for the four nations and missing pre-season it would be a big undertaking to keep him at Welford road. Gary Gold feels confident that playing the likes of New Zealand, Australia and South Africa will make him stronger and more prepared to enter Bath's season campaign. With 34 caps and 20 points for the Puma's and competing against the world’s best in the four nations we can only hope he can come to Bath and demonstrate his skills and convert it into points as he did at Tigers.

So have Bath finally made a top signing from Leicester ? Let's certainly hope so!

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