Cardiff-born and raised winger Immanuel Feyi-Waboso has reportedly made the decision to join the England rugby squad for the upcoming Six Nations, turning down the opportunity to play for Wales.
This move has sent shockwaves through the Welsh rugby public, as the 21-year-old sensation, who has recently made a significant impact with the Exeter Chiefs, navigates a complex personal situation.
Per reports in Wales online, Feyi-Waboso informed Warren Gatland and the Welsh Rugby Union of his choice last, citing a crucial factor that goes beyond the field—his medical studies. Currently undertaking a long-term medicine degree at Exeter University alongside his burgeoning rugby career, the young player faces a delicate balancing act.
The primary stumbling block for Feyi-Waboso’s involvement with Wales revolves around the 25-cap rule. Accepting a place in the Welsh Six Nations squad would necessitate re-signing with a Welsh region when his contract expires, a move he is unwilling to make. Such a decision would force him to abandon Exeter University before completing his degree, adding another layer of disruption to his fledgling career.
Feyi-Waboso, who qualifies for England through family heritage, embarked on his rugby journey with Cardiff Rugby. However, due to circumstances beyond his control, he was compelled to leave for Wasps and commence his medical studies at Aston University. After Wasps’ downturn, he found a new home at Exeter, restarting his studies from the first year.
Despite his breakthrough into Exeter’s first team this season, Feyi-Waboso remains committed to his education and is content in England. The prospect of uprooting his current studies and potentially facing more disruptions is a risk he is unwilling to take.
While Feyi-Waboso’s attendance at the England Six Nations alignment camp places him on Steve Borthwick’s radar, it does not guarantee his inclusion in the final squad. Borthwick, the England coach, has expressed interest in the winger, but uncertainties linger over his ultimate decision between England and Wales.
Exeter Chiefs’ head coach, Rob Baxter, acknowledged the challenges ahead for Feyi-Waboso, emphasising the need for a delicate balance between rugby and studying. Baxter remains optimistic about the winger’s potential, praising his athleticism, pace, strength, and balance. As Feyi-Waboso grapples with this international dilemma, his future in the rugby arena remains uncertain, but his dedication to both education and sport sets the stage for a compelling journey ahead.