With a number of players returning home to represent the Western Force next year, it signified a poignant reminder of the success of the WA rugby pathway. But it’s not just a pathway for players that has been created.
Earlier this month, former Wests Scarborough Premier Grade Head Coach and internationally experienced Dylan Parsons was named Head Coach of the academy department at the Western Force.
Having worked on his craft for the last four years with RugbyWA, Parsons has risen through the ranks from a Casual Development Officer and countless volunteer roles, to join the Western Force.
“Dylan is someone who has shown unparalleled commitment to rugby in Western Australia for a number of years and is well deserving of this opportunity,” Head of Rugby Matt Hodgson said.
“He is equipped with all the skills required to make an impact at the professional level with the Western Force. I’m really looking forward to seeing him make his mark.”
Parsons’ journey has been a patient, selfless and dedicated one, with experiences inter-state and overseas proving vital, however it’s here in Perth where his story began.
“My first coaching experience was with Wests Scarborough U14’s. From there I coached in the PSA (Public Schools Association) at Wesley College and continued through the RugbyWA Pathway and Academy System” the former Perth Bayswater Rugby Club junior said.
“It was great to gain that local knowledge and it helped ignite my passion for coaching.”
In 2015 Parsons was recruited to play for Hertfordshire-based side, Letchworth Garden City Rugby Club, and it was in the UK where he knew coaching was the path he wanted to pursue.
“The Letchworth Head Coach was also the Academy coach at the Saracens, so he helped me gain an opportunity with them to further my coaching experience,” Parsons explained.
“It really opened my eyes to the professional environment process and how crucial aligning the pro team values and methods with every team down to the development sides is.
With further experience gained through NRL and Japanese clubs, Parsons was promoted to Coach Education Manager for RugbyWA.
“For me it made sense to be around rugby every day. If I was serious about making this my career, I had to be amongst it every day.
“RugbyWA was the perfect place to learn, grow and develop myself around rugby. I was fortunate enough to have great mentors within RugbyWA during my time including Director of Rugby Steve Anderson and CEO Bob Hunter who gave me an opportunity in rugby when I returned from the UK”.
“Working with Steve every day, soaking up each lesson and piece of knowledge, played a significant role in my coaching pathway. He instilled that confidence and self-belief in me to enter the professional environment.”
Having been with the Western Force coaching staff for just over a week, Parsons is relishing the new challenge ahead.
“We want to develop as many local players as we can into fully fledged professionals for the Western Force and the Wallabies. That goal is central to everything we do each and every day as a coaching unit,” he stated.
“A big part of our program is the holistic approach, as we want to ensure our players grow off the field as well into self-reliant people who can handle themselves no matter where their journey takes them.”
Dylan is the first product of the RugbyWA coaching pathway to join the professional team setup, but he won’t be the last.