SQ programme converts 'gifted' age-grade Rugby League captain
Scotland’s new SQ programme welcomed its first signing this week with the arrival of Callum McLelland to Edinburgh Rugby.
The Scottish Qualified (SQ) programme, which replaced the previous Exiles programme in October this year, has broadened the network of scouts across England and abroad to identify players eligible to play for Scotland living outside its borders.
McLelland joins Edinburgh Rugby from Super League team Castleford Tigers where he was a member of their academy, having joined the club in August 2016.
He played rugby union up to the age of 13 before focusing on league, representing Castleford based Lock Lane ARLFC club and attending Castleford Academy School.
The 18 year-old stand-off captained England U16s in league and recently played for the England Academy in their two-match series against France in October, scoring a match winning drop-goal in a 19-18 victory in the opening game.
He qualifies for Scotland through a grandfather born in East Ayrshire.
Scottish Rugby’s Technical Director, Stephen Gemmell, said: “We have had a very positive response to the launch of the new SQ Programme and are delighted to be able to attract a young talented rugby league player to Scottish Rugby.
“We have been monitoring Callum through our programme, utlising Alan Tait’s expertise in Rugby League, for some time and it’s great he has taken the opportunity to sign for Edinburgh Rugby and continue his career development in union, in Scotland.”
Castleford Tigers Head Coach, Daryl Powell, said: “Callum was offered an opportunity with the Scottish SQ programme that he felt he couldn’t turn down. We made an offer to retain him but had to accept his wishes on this occasion.
"Having declined an extension from us we felt it was best for both Callum and the club that we allowed him to take up this offer."
Edinburgh Rugby Head Coach, Richard Cockerill, said: "Callum is a young and gifted stand-off so it will be exciting to see him continue his development with us as he makes the switch from league into union.
"I’m delighted that he sees his future with Edinburgh – a club, that for him, has the right culture and environment where he can work hard and realise his potential."