Ben Vellacott’s move north is good news for Edinburgh and Scotland
Edinburgh’s signing of scrum-half Ben Vellacott from Wasps looks like good news for the capital club and Scotland.
The 25-year-old has agreed to move north in the summer and his decision to leave the English Premiership suggests he is ready to try to force his way into Gregor Townsend’s squad.
The Scotland coach has long coveted the pacy No 9 and considered him for a call-up for the national side but the player appeared to harbour ambitions to play for England.
Vellacott was born in Chertsey, Surrey, but qualifies for Scotland through his mother, who is from Peterhead. He was once part of Eddie Jones’ wider elite player squad but was never called up by England to train or play.
Townsend spoke to him during the 2017-18 season about playing for Scotland and also revealed that he tried to sign the scrum-half when he was Glasgow Warriors coach.
Vellacott was reluctant to give up his English-qualified player (EQP) status because it increased his chances of winning contracts in the Premiership due to the Rugby Football Union’s policy of rewarding clubs who field a majority of EQP in their match-day squad.
That was despite the fact he represented Scotland from under-17 through to under-20 level while coming through the ranks at Hartpury College, and played at the Junior World Championship in dark blue in New Zealand in 2014.
He was in the Exeter Chiefs academy but his senior professional breakthrough came at Gloucester in 2017, from which he went on to score 14 tries in 49 appearances, earning him a move to Wasps in 2019.
He missed six months of last season with his new club due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury. But since his recovery he has scored twice in 14 appearances at the Coventry-based side whom helped reach the Gallagher Premiership final where they lost out to Exeter last October.
He is just 5ft 6in but is a dynamic presence and looking forward to playing for Richard Cockerill’s side.
“I’m really excited about joining Edinburgh,” Vellacott said. “The recent signings and re-signings show the direction the club want to go in and I’m delighted to be a part of that.
“I believe it’s the perfect time and opportunity for me personally and I’m excited to play for the club and be part of the Guinness Pro14. It’s important to face new challenges in order to grow as person, which excites me.
“I absolutely love attacking rugby but a huge personal progression over the last couple of seasons has been my game management. This is something I believe has really developed and hope to put to good use.”
Cockerill said: “His speed, speed of thought and speed of ball make him a real threat behind the scrum, keeping defences honest with attacking variety, which we hope will bring our link players and back-line into play.
“He’s a former Scotland age-grade player so is well known and well-liked in the group and brings some good experience from playing four seasons in the English Premiership and European Cup competitions.
“His profile sits nicely among our other scrum-halves, giving us good depth and variety in that area, which is great for competition and for their development as a group of nines.”