Why on-form Ben Vellacott needs to exercise a little more patience after his surprise Scotland omission

Gregor Townsend likes to spring a surprise and the Scotland coach had a couple up his sleeve on Wednesday when he named his training squad for the Autumn Nations Series.
Ben Vellacott in try-scoring form for Edinburgh against the Stormers. Picture: Ross Parker/SNSBen Vellacott in try-scoring form for Edinburgh against the Stormers. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS
Ben Vellacott in try-scoring form for Edinburgh against the Stormers. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS

The inclusion of South African flanker Dylan Richardson grabbed the headlines but the call-up for Edinburgh’s inexperienced fly-half Charlie Savala was also noteworthy given the Aussie has played just twice since moving to Scotland a year ago.

The starkest omission from the squad was that of another Edinburgh half-back, with Ben Vellacott being left out despite his impressive form in the first three games of the United Rugby Championship season.

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The scrum-half has scored three tries already and won two player of the match awards but was overlooked by Townsend who named Glasgow Warriors trio Ali Price, George Horne and Jamie Dobie in his squad.

Vellacott’s international candidacy has been something of a running debate for a number of years. Born in Surrey but with a mum from Peterhead, he played for Scotland Under-20s alongside the likes of Jamie Ritchie, Scott Cummings, Zander Fagerson and Blair Kinghorn.

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However, his form for Gloucester caught the attention of Eddie Jones and he was called up to train with the full England squad in 2018.

No cap was forthcoming, however, and Vellacott, at 26, remains ‘uncaptured’ at international level.

His close-season move to Edinburgh from Wasps was made with an eye on Scotland and the player has made no secret of his desire to play at the next Rugby World Cup.

He was drafted into Mike Blair’s Scotland squad in June when a number of players were ruled out by Covid but the summer schedule was eventually cancelled due to the virus.

Blair, now his coach at Edinburgh, described Vellacott as “exceptional” this month but also warned that he might have to bide his time at international level.

“I think Scotland have strong scrum-halves,” said Blair, an expert in the field. “George and Ali probably have a fair bit in the bank, but the way that Ben is going, if he can continue to show this consistency, he’ll start pushing those two, along with Jamie Dobie and Scott Steele.”

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The door is certainly not shut on Vellacott. He just needs to be a little bit more patient while maintaining his outstanding form.

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