Scotland stand-off Dan Parks today announced his retirement from international rugby with immediate effect.
In his eight year international career, Parks won 67 caps for Scotland, scoring 266 points, including a Scottish record 17 drop-goals.
He was the pivotal figure in Scotland’s successes in 2010, winning a host of Man of the Match awards and steering the side to a historic, unprecedented Test series triumph in Argentina and memorable victories against Ireland and South Africa.
Parks (Cardiff Blues), 33, had been thinking over his decision following the Rugby World Cup, in which he was Man of the Match in the final pool game against England.
He told www.scotlandrugbyteam.org: “I was thinking about it but the first game of the Six Nations was against England, the auld enemy, Jacko (Ruaridh Jackson) was injured and being able to play against England was huge for me as there was a sense of unfinished business.
“On reflection after the game, after talking it over with my family, girlfriend and close friends I’ve come to the decision that now is the right time to retire from the international game.
“There are some really talented guys coming through – Jacko (Ruaridh Jackson), Greig (Laidlaw) and Duncan (Weir) – and although I’m sad to be finishing my international career I have some fantastic memories of playing for Scotland and what that has meant to me.
“I’ve no regrets at what has been an amazing career for me. I’ve got my favourite moments for Scotland – uppermost being the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
“That was my first World Cup, something that as a youngster you would always aspire to play in, and it was just such a happy, exciting, positive time. It was also where I met my girl-friend, Laetitia.
“Other memorable moments have been the two wins against England at home (2006 and 2008), the win against South Africa here at Murrayfield, the two wins in Argentina in 2010 and one in 2008 and the Ireland game in 2010 which was a great occasion.
“I’ve made some incredible friends here in Scotland and in the Scotland team and a lot of those friendships were forged in Glasgow.
“I also want to thank the loyal fans of the Scotland team. It’s been a rocky road for me at times but at the end I’ve always given 100 per cent to play at my best and succeed for Scotland.
“This is not the end of me as a rugby player. My international career is over but I want to keep playing club rugby. I always enjoyed my time in Glasgow. It’s one of great cities I’ve visited, so who knows what will happen in the future.”
Scotland head coach Andy Robinson said: “I have really enjoyed working with Dan. He wasn’t in my first Scotland squads but through his own determination, hard work, skill and competitive spirit he forced his way back into selection. It’s never an easy decision to make but I feel Dan has made the right decision and thank him for his contribution over the years.”
Parks’ half-back partner on many occasions, Edinburgh Rugby’s Mike Blair said: “The reaction of all the guys when Parksy announced his retirement said it all – stunned silence and emotion.
“Dan is a hugely popular and respected member of the squad and his contribution to some of Scotland’s most famous victories cannot be under-estimated.
“2010 sticks in my mind the most. Dan coming back from the wilderness to win MOTMs against Wales, Italy, Ireland, South Africa and Argentina in that year just showed how resilient and competitive he is. His humour, talent and energy will certainly be missed around the Scotland camp.”
He has been and will remain a divisive figure in Scottish Rugby but he has pulled more than a few games out of the fire and in 2010 he practically pulled our Six Nations out of the fire single-handed. On his day he was probably the best tactical/positional kicker in the game, or at the very least the equal of Ronan O’ Gara. His Magners League/RaboPRO12 points haul is a testament to this. But truth be told, his truly great games were a little fewer and further between than the man from Munster.
One of the founding conversations that gave birth to this blog was a drunken ramble through Paris with Al discussing Park’s merits as captain. Sure his kicks went awry sometimes, he threw silly passes, but his attitude towards his team-mates and efforts to motivate them when they were stuck in the mire were admirable. One of my friends was not long introduced to the game and was a little perturbed by the Parksy ass-pat as witnessed on numerous occasions – something he hadn’t seen much in life to that point – but it was just Dan’s way of geeing up his fellow players.
Lock Alastair Kellock, a team-mate and captain of Dan with both Glasgow Warriors and Scotland, said: “International rugby has enormous highs and lows and it’s testament to the credibility of Dan’s character that he managed to bring positivity to every day he was involved.
“It’s been a huge privilege to have played with him over so many years for Glasgow and Scotland.”
His selection by his peers as player’s Player of the Tournament in 2007 is testament to his popularity amongst fellow Scotland players. We need never question his commitment to the country that he adopted, even if maybe we never fully adopted him.
The Parks-free Scotland team to play Wales in Cardiff on Sunday will be announced tomorrow.