July 14, 2022

ISCA coach Dan Parks, on his international rugby career

Kate Newton

Inspired by Sydney Rugby Union’s Shute Shield teams fighting their way through the back end of the competition, we thought we would sit down with former international rugby player and ISCA coach, Dan Parks to talk about his time playing and coaching rugby.

What was the highlight of your professional rugby career?
Without a doubt playing for Scotland in the World Cup in 2007. I love the game of rugby and the world cup was a real celebration, all about the sport. It didn’t matter what day of the week it was, there was always something happening for the game of rugby.

What do you enjoy most about your job as a coach?
I enjoy being surrounded by the likeminded people involved in the game, coaches, players, managers etc. I think as well just being able to pass on what I have learned in my time playing rugby, to the players I coach today. I find you learn the most when your faced with adversity, learning how to adapt, whether that’s with the weather or even injury, it’s great to coach a team, and support them through these experiences.

When you were playing, what was your inspiration, and do you still pull from that now as a coach?
When I was playing at a young age, I just always wanted to be a professional rugby player. I looked up to Ricky Stuart, a great rugby league legend and I modelled a lot of my game around his skillset. He was the coach on the field that the team needed and that’s exactly what a good fly half is.

In transitioning from playing professional sport, into coaching, how do you keep motivated?
The thought of retirement when you’re playing catches up to you very quick, you think five years is a long time to go until you blink and it’s time. My love for the game and my competitive nature motivated when I was playing, and it continues to motivate me today as a coach. The position I played, fly-half, is essentially a coach on the field, so I do feel like some of my skillset from playing, I have been able to utilise as a coach.

Any tips for your people looking to enter a coaching career?
Coaching is not a 9-5 job; however, I personally have never second-guessed any hour outside of a normal workday because I love what I do. As a coach you do need to be organised, you can’t ‘wing’ it, the players will see straight through that. Always make sure you are prepared. And don’t forget that you are human. Be accountable and willing to take on feedback from others.

What are some of the lessons learned from your coaching staff that you have applied to your own style as a coach?
What I respected and learned from my good coaches was their honestly. You need to be honest with your players and where they’re at in the game, what they’re doing well and what they need to work on. Inclusion is also important, the players are the ones on the field playing the game, they need to be included in the decision making. When my coaches were prepared, honest and inclusive, I believed in what they were delivering.

What are your thoughts on the Wallabies this year and their game leading into the World cup in France next year?
I think the Wallabies have come along way, even with the loss to England in the second test match, sometimes you have to give credit to the opposition and England played a very good game. I do think that France and England will be two tough teams to beat in the World Cup next year, but in the lead up to Australia hosting the world cup in 2027 and 2029, Australia have something great they’re working towards.