Femi Sofolarin’s switch from England to Scotland surprises senior players

Femi Sofolarin in action for Harlequins' Under-18 side. Picture: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images
Femi Sofolarin in action for Harlequins' Under-18 side. Picture: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images
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Sevens winger Femi Sofolarin, who turned out for England in three World Series events last season, is a “special” player who will be a great asset to Scotland this term after the speedster made a dramatic change of allegiance.

That is the view of his new team-mate Robbie Fergusson after the 19-year-old was yesterday named in the Scotland Sevens core squad for the 2019-20 season by new head coach Ciaran Beattie.

Sofolarin was capped by Scotland in the XV-a-side set-up at under-18 level during the 2018 Six Nations Festival in Wales and, indeed, scored a try as a replacement back when the Scots defeated their English counterparts 32-27.

That try and his raw pace clearly alerted England scouts to his talents and soon he was playing sevens for them at lower level events.

His progress continued and he turned out for the full England Sevens squad in the last three legs of the elite circuit in Singapore, London and Paris this year.

However, he is now returning to dark blue as he was not ‘captured’ by England during his sevens appearances because he is under 20.

Fergusson admits the more experienced Scotland sevens players were “surprised” when Sofolarin first came to training a few months ago, but is “excited” to have him available.

“We were a little bit surprised when he came to training as we saw him play for England last year,” Fergusson, 26, said.

“We have seen him playing, know what he is about and it is quite exciting knowing there is someone of his talent about in our group. He is such a young lad, his feet are pretty special and he as a good turn of pace. It is a great addition to our squad.

“I had a little chat with Ciaran recently and he had said there might be something in the pipeline. I looked Femi up and there were a few of his clips online and he is pretty handy, his selection is a bit of a shock, but a good one.”

Beattie, 33, said of the selection: “Femi has played a lot of sevens and it was a no brainer to get him in really.

“He has obviously played Scotland Under-18s before so we have known about him and he has been in and around the [Scottish Rugby] system for a long time.

“He is now at Newcastle University and he is a great bloke. There was no persuasion needed, there was just a discussion with him and honest and frank dialogue with [England Sevens and GB Sevens head coach] Simon Amor.

“It makes sense and with him being at Newcastle now we believe we can help facilitate his development.

“He is not tied to England, I think he will have to make a decision around Sydney time [1-2 February, 2020] and after that he would be tied to us.

“Femi has still got to prove himself, he is going to come to the warm-up tournament in Spain at the weekend, but he has trained really well and he has real pace.”