FORMER Scotland age-grade international Ben Vellacott will join Edinburgh in the summer after agreeing a contract for an unspecified period. The 25-year-old scrum-half, who was born in Surrey but qualifies for Scotland through his mother, is understood to have been in talks with the capital club since mid-January.
“I’m really excited about joining Edinburgh,” Vellacott said in a statement on the team’s website. “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 – as well as exploring a new area with my partner and Frenchie [French Bulldog].
“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 a person, which excites me.
“My main focus is to play rugby for Edinburgh and hopefully help the team as a whole to progress further. 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.”
A Gloucester player for three years before joining Wasps in 2019, Vellacott joins an Edinburgh squad that already has Nic Groom (contract situation unclear), Henry Pyrgos (out of contract this summer) and Charlie Shiel (contract situation unclear) competing for a start in the No 9 jersey, while academy prospect Roan Frostwick has not been involved with the match-day 23 since coming off the bench in last August. He joins Harlequins duo James Lang and Glen Young in agreeing to make the close-season move from the English Premiership.
South African prop Boan Venter joined last month and has already made his debut, effectively replacing Jamie Bhatti, who was allowed to leave for Bath but has now agreed to move back to Glasgow in the summer.
Most of Edinburgh’s transfer-market business since the turn of the year has involved the re-signing of current players. Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Bill Mata, Blair Kinghorn, Jaco van der Walt, Jack Blain, Willem Nel and most recently Nick Haining have all agreed new deals. Meanwhile, Simon Berghan is leaving for Glasgow, and Duhan van der Merwe is leaving for Worcester.
“We’re really pleased to announce Ben is joining us,” head coach Richard 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.”
The signing comes less than two weeks after Cockerill told the press that he had no budget left to make any new signings.
“No, we haven’t got any budget to sign anybody,” he said. “I’m just stating facts. We haven’t got any budget to sign any loan players or new players. It is what it is.”