Edinburgh sign Bristol Bears Academy winger Freddie Owsley

Scottish-qualified 24-year-old will bring genuine pace to capital backline after successful track career

EDINBURGH have announced the signing of Bristol Bears Academy wing/full-back Freddie Owlsey ahead of next season on a now customary secret length contract.

The 24-year-old, who is Scottish qualified through a grandmother from Govan, grew up in Bristol as promising rugby player, footballer and track athlete.

After focusing on athletics – representing Great Britain U20 in the 200m, 400m, 4x100m and 4x400m, being crowned national 400m U20 Champion and earning a place in the British indoor and outdoor senior 200m final – Owlsey returned to rugby with the Bears Academy last summer.


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“I’m completely ecstatic. I’ve always dreamed of playing in Scotland,” said Owsley. “Looking at the club and the direction its going, with new signings and the new stadium, it seems like there’s huge potential at the club, so I’m very keen to get stuck in and push for a place in the side.

“I know a lot about how strong Edinburgh’s pack is and how much of a weapon that is for the club, however I know from speaking to Richard Cockerill [Head Coach] how important speed is in the team’s system.

“I also really like the look of the new stadium and synthetic surface. It really suits me having a fast track all year round, so hopefully I’ll get some games and be able to show some speed out wide.”

Owsley’s sister Lily was a gold medallist with Team GB (hockey) at the 2016 Rio Games, while great grandfather Duncan McPherson played left back for Queens Park in the 1920s.

“My mum’s been the most involved in my sport and, being a massive Scotland fan, she couldn’t be prouder that I’m coming to Edinburgh – probably the proudest out of any of my sporting achievements, and even arguably my sister who’s won a gold medal!” he added.

“It’s something that’s always been there throughout my life, and you can’t find a much better city than Edinburgh to pursue a dream.

“The main thing I want to do it play. I’m really keen to get up there and get stuck into some rugby.”

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill said: “Freddie is an exciting prospect for us to develop.

“He already has a lot of rugby in him, but that kind of speed you cannot teach – it’s a genetic gift which he’s worked exceptionally hard to hone at an elite level.

“He has a great work ethic, so it’ll be interesting to see how he progresses with an extended spell working with the coaches here.

“He’ll hopefully develop into a real weapon for us on the quick synthetic surface in the new stadium next season.”


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David Barnes
About David Barnes 2305 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

8 Comments

  1. Please note, running fast in a lane is one skill;
    Swerving, dodging, accelerating and changing direction at pace are completely different skills.

    He will look fast if he gets an interception though!

    I thought we had learned our lessons trying to convert sprinters to rugby players 25 years ago.

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    • Thom Evans wasn’t exactly a failure. Very similar story IIRC. Evans was at Wasps academy after doing althetics, before SRU signed him and Max into the sevens program.

  2. Don’t know much about the lad. If he can run a 10.6 100m then he’s fast alright. But as someone stated on Twitter “no point in being fast if you have d*ldo’s for hands”. So lets see what his skills are apart from running fast.

    To follow on with another much-changed quote from Mike Tyson “everybody has a plan until they punched in the face”. I’d like to know how he does in those tight situations where you are up against lads that have 20kg’s on you and are barrelling at your body with the intent of going through you for a shortcut.

    All the same if that passion for all things Scotland is well found then he might be decent addition to the Embra side.

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    • He’ll succeed or fail on his basic rugby skills, but he’s no Carlin Isles, he’s grown up playing rugby, committed to athletics and is now returning to the sport. He’s been picked up from the Bristol Bears academy.

      Let’s hope he’s a rugby risk that comes through. Doubt we’ll see him play for a fair while tbh.

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      • I would add that Isles is 75kg. This lad is 90kg. That’s a few sacks of spuds more that he’s carrying, and just a few tenths off of him in terms of time. But you’re right. Its his rugby skills that will matter in those moments of attrition.

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