Edinburgh have confirmed the signing of a 6’4, multi-sport athlete who has shone in both football and athletics. 24-year-old Scottish-qualified speedster Freddie Owsley signs from the Bristol Bears Academy and has run the 100 metres in a time of 10.67 seconds.
Head coach Richard Cockerill said the wing/fullback’s speed was a genetic ‘gift’ that you couldn’t teach.
The 6’4, 90.4kg back three player – whose grandmother is from Govan – grew up in Bristol and trained with the south-west arm of the Scottish Exiles out of Taunton while representing Bristol U18 as well as the academy talent identification set-up at Bristol City FC.
As a teenager his career progressed to Bristol A and included an invite to try out for Great Britain students, both of which he had to turn down as the demands of a blossoming athletics career took hold.
In a four-year spell away from rugby Owsley represented Great Britain U20 in the 200m, 400m, 4x100m and 4x400m and was crowned national 400m U20 Champion before earning a place in the British indoor and outdoor senior 200m final.
He also lined up for the Junior Team GB squad in the 4x100m and 200m, before returning to his first love, rugby, with the Bears Academy last summer, making his debut in the Premiership Shield.
Although not born in Scotland herself, Freddie’s mother Jennifer Owsley has always been an ardent Scotland fan because of the connections fostered by her parents and older siblings, who grew up there, meaning Freddie too has long harboured an ambition to play north of the border.
He arrives with a strong sporting heritage – his 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.
With 10.67s (100 metres) and 21.12 (200 metres) track times to his credit, Owsley is looking to make good on his potential and continue his family’s Scottish connections and sporting pedigree here in the capital.
He said: “I’m completely ecstatic. I’ve always dreamed of playing in Scotland.
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“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!
“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 is play. I’m really keen to get up there and get stuck into some rugby.
“Looking at the club and the direction it’s going, with new signings and the new stadium, it seems like there’s huge potential, 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.
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“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.”
Edinburgh Rugby 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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