Wales boss ‘not satisfied’ with handling of Immanuel Feyi-Waboso saga

Colin Newboult
Immanuel Feyi-Waboso in action for England during the 2024 Six Nations.

Immanuel Feyi-Waboso in action for England during the 2024 Six Nations.

Welsh Rugby Union executive director of rugby Nigel Walker has admitted that much more could have been done to tempt Immanuel Feyi-Waboso across the Severn Bridge.

Born and raised in Cardiff, the 21-year-old has a Welsh accent and only moved to England after failing to get a place at Cardiff University.

He duly found an opportunity in the Midlands and signed for Wasps before their demise meant that he moved to Exeter Chiefs.

Since joining the Chiefs and enrolling at Exeter University, Feyi-Waboso has thrived, prompting a potential tug-of-war between England and Wales, since he was eligible for both countries.

Contrasting approaches

Red Rose boss Steve Borthwick contacted the youngster and did what he could to convince him to play in white, but that was seemingly not the case for the Welsh set-up.

“Am I satisfied that everything was done? No,” Walker told WalesOnline.

“Did we turn over every stone? I don’t think we did but I’ve had conversations with a number of people since and some of the things we could have done better last time we will do very well next time.

“Can we ever say that a player will never go across the border and never end up playing for England rather than Wales? No, we can’t but we can make it more difficult for that to happen.

“If I think of the collective support we offered to Immanuel around the time he was making his decision we could have done better as a collective.”

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Feyi-Waboso duly chose England and was called up to their squad for the recent 2024 Six Nations Championship where he impressed.

Despite not getting many minutes against either Italy or Wales, the Exeter youngster scored his first international try against Scotland, which earned him a first Test start two weeks later.

He then starred as the Red Rose ended Ireland’s Grand Slam dreams with a dramatic 23-22 triumph at Twickenham.

More Welsh talent to choose England?

The early signs are that Wales have missed out on a real talent and Walker admits that they need to make sure other individuals don’t follow the same path.

Several Welsh-born players have signed for English Premiership academies and there is a risk that they could also be lost to the English national team.

“Of course we are talking about those things internally. We are talking about those things with our international colleagues and we are talking about those things with World Rugby. We are going to look to defend our position where that’s concerned,” the WRU executive director of rugby said.

“We want players born in Wales and who are eligible to play for Wales to be able to play for Wales. We don’t want any loopholes to be taken advantage of if there are any loopholes.

“If it’s the best thing for the players, whether they be male or female, to get their education outside of Wales we are not going to stop them doing that. We do need to make sure the educational offer in Wales is as strong as it can be.

“We need to look at other things like bursaries, like having stronger relationships with those who will go across the border to make sure they come back once they finish their studies. We are looking at that whole raft of things.”

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