The sudden retirement from international rugby of Dan Parks has come as a surprise to most. The timing of the announcement and the comments made by Andy Robinson suggest that Parks has been told his international days are over. Admittedly, he had a shocker against England but most players have games where everything they attempt goes wrong. He has been held responsible for Scotland’s inability to score tries.
The Australian born Parks has been a great servant of Scottish rugby and is much respected by teammates and opponents alike. While he has had ups and downs during his international career he has made some notable contributions to the game north of the border.
Parks was chosen as Scotland’s player of the tournament at RWC 2007 and was man of the match on 3 occasions during the 2010 6 Nations. He played a key role in the 2-0 series win in Argentina and the home win against South Africa in 2010.
A low point for Parks was the role he played in the defeat by Argentina in Wellington during RWC 2011 – a loss which saw Scotland fail to qualify for the quarter finals for the first time.
The vitriol to which Parks has been subjected is reminiscent of what Stephen Donald experienced when blamed for the All Blacks loss to Australia in Hong Kong in 2010.
Parks, like Donald, is an utterly genuine, hard working professional who has been a great ambassador for the game. The manner in which both players have been vilified by both media and some supporters is a disgrace. All professional players know that they are open to praise and criticism commensurate with their performances. However, the personal nature of some of the attacks has been appalling.
Donald got a unique opportunity for redemption in the eyes of New Zealanders, with his world cup winning penalty against France. A Cardiff Blues Heineken Cup win might provide Parks with something similar, though after the pool stages that seems unlikely.
The critics have got what they wanted but as they celebrate Parks’ departure they should take a moment to acknowledge his career highlights.