Cardiff Blues have signed loosehead prop Theo Bevacqua on an Academy deal as he arrives in Wales as part of the Exiles programme.
Born and raised in the South-East of England, the 18-year-old was captain of Eastbourne College’s 1st XV and on the books at Harlequins, but has turned down offers to stay at the Gallagher Premiership club and move to South Wales.
Bevacqua qualifies for Wales through his mother’s side of the family and toured South Africa with Wales U18 before appearing for Wales U19 against Scotland U19 at Ystrad Mynach on Sunday.
He played for Cardiff Blues A in the Celtic Cup earlier this season, and will arrive full-time at the Arms Park next summer as he begins an Economics and Philosophy course at Cardiff University.
Speaking to the Cardiff Blues official website, Bevacqua said, “It all started when I got asked to play in a few Cardiff Blues A games in the Celtic Cup this season. When I first arrived at the set-up, I really enjoyed the ethos and culture they had around the club and how the place was ran.
“Just walking into the changing rooms, you’d have senior boys who were really helpful and keen to speak to me as a youngster. If I had questions, they’d be really proactive with me and that really stuck with me.
“There’s also really good coaches here. As a loosehead prop, having Gethin Jenkins as one of the academy coaches was a big factor in deciding to sign. He was someone I looked up to when I was growing up, so that’s really exciting.
“I wanted to fully commit to Wales. Having been in school in England while involved with the Wales under-18 side, I had seen the challenges, so I wanted to fully immerse myself into the system, by being with Cardiff Blues and going to university in the city as well.
“Cardiff Blues really encouraged the education side, and manage your time-table to be able to fit in my course around my rugby training, and that was really important in my decision. I wanted to combine both, because I’ve been really keen to continue my studies as well as concentrate on my rugby.
“Cardiff University is a great university, and the course that I want to do is up there with the best, so it’s the perfect match-up. I’m really excited to get started, but I’ve got to take it as it comes. I’ll be coming into train when I can this year, but will get properly stuck in next year.
“I’m looking forward to progressing my game in a full time environment and push on with any opportunities I get with Cardiff Blues, as well as with the international age grade rugby. I’m excited to get my head down and get learning.”