Ben Vellacott eyes Scotland call - but knows he has to produce for Edinburgh first

Space was at a premium at a packed Edinburgh Rugby Stadium on Saturday, but Ben Vellacott still managed to find a yard and produce an electric dash up the left wing during an impressive first half for the home team.

Ben Vellacott impressed on his debut for Edinburgh against Newcastle Falcons. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS

Newcastle Falcons proved too strong in the end, spoiling the housewarming as Edinburgh opened their new home to the public. Despite the 26-10 reverse, Vellacott felt there were plenty of positives he and his new team-mates could take from their first outing of the season.

The scrum-half, who joined from Wasps in the summer, caught the eye in flashes in a debut that suggested he could be a real asset.

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Now 26, the dual-qualified Vellacott remains uncapped, a perplexing state of affairs for one so talented. Courted by England at one point, the former Scotland Under-20 international now has his sights set firmly on pulling on the dark blue and admits it influenced his decision to sign for Edinburgh.

Try-scorer Mark Bennett was Edinburgh's man of the match in the 26-10 defeat by Newcastle Falcons. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS

“I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t in the back of my mind but at the end of the day we’ve got a new coach, a new playing style, I’m at a new club and you’ve got to put in the performances on the pitch to back that up,” he said.

“So that comes first and until I put in good performances on the pitch, international [rugby] doesn’t really come into my thinking.”

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Born in Chertsey in Surrey, Vellacott qualifies for Scotland through his mother from Peterhead and came through the ranks playing age-grade rugby with the likes of Blair Kinghorn, Damien Hoyland and Magnus Bradbury, all now team-mates.

Fans enjoy a drink in the sunshine at the first match at the Edinburgh Rugby Stadium. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS

The scrum-half was called into the Scotland camp in the summer ahead of the A international against England after a number of players were forced to isolate due to a Covid case. However, the match had to be postponed when more players tested positive, as did the full Tests that were supposed to follow against Romania and Georgia.

Signed by Richard Cockerill, by the time Vellacott turned up for pre-season there had been a changing of the guard at Edinburgh and Mike Blair had taken over. Having a former scrum-half as head coach is no bad thing, he thinks.

“Mike’s obviously a very experienced player, playing for Edinburgh for many years and internationally and then going on to play for the Lions. It’s always very helpful if that can help me improve my game and the other nines we’ve got here can learn off him and improve our own individual games.”

Scrum-half is a position of strength for Scottish rugby and Vellacott knows he has a battle on his hands. The other nines at Edinburgh – Henry Pyrgos and Charlie Shiel – both saw action on Saturday, while over at Glasgow, Jamie Dobie has recently followed Ali Price and George Horne into the full Scotland squad.

The livewire Vellacott offers something a little different though and impressed against Newcastle along with fellow new boy Henry Immelman, wing Hoyland and the impressive Mark Bennett.

It was Bennett who scored Edinburgh’s try but the Falcons proved too strong, scoring four through Louis Schreuder, George McGuigan, Ollie Lindsay-Hague and Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti.

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