US Portsmouth RFC take big step towards return to competitive action with appointment of new Director of Rugby Nick Parker

US Portsmouth have taken a huge step towards returning to competitive rugby with the appointment of Nick Parker as the club’s director of rugby.

Wednesday, 25th March 2020, 1:56 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th March 2020, 2:10 pm
Nick Parker, left, is the new Director of Rugby at US Portsmouth. Pic: Malcolm Wells

USP, formed in 1882, were forced to withdraw from London 3 South West last November, after failing to honour three successive league games. They had also conceded over 100 points in losing to Reeds Weybridge.

It was a sorry situation for a club who, before the advent of league rugby in the late 1980s, regularly faced the likes of Bath, Harlequins, Saracens and Wasps in first class matches.

USP had spent the past decade yo-yoing between the national and Hampshire Leagues.

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In 2015 they won the Hampshire title with 18 wins out of 18 - and in each of those games won a bonus point for scoring four or more tries.

Relegated from London 3 South West two years later, US bounced straight back 12 months later after winning the Hampshire League again.

Parker is now hoping the future is much brighter for a club who once boasted a first-class fixture list against some of the biggest clubs in Britain prior to the introduction of the professional era.

Indeed, it could be that US Portsmouth return to Saturday afternoon rugby when the 2020/21 Hampshire 1 season begins.

‘I want this club to be a community club, for those clubs are an important part of their local area,’ Parker said.

‘USP have a great history but my focus is on the current group of players, because at the moment they are the club - they define what it is and what it can be.

‘Moving forward, the players are going to be the best advert for the club. I want them to tell their friends and anyone they might meet about playing here.

‘The foundations and bones are here for this to be a very good club. They had a wobble last year but with care and attention we can turn it around.

‘Sporting clubs have an important part in the fabric of this city, and this is going to become increasingly so when we get back to normal life.’

Parker is no stranger to US Portsmouth. He was the RFU’s community coach for South East Hampshire until 2018, and is the current Director of Rugby at the University of Portsmouth. He has also worked with Royal Navy rugby squads.

US Portsmouth chairman Bill Oliphant said: ‘Nick will drive the club towards the objective of having a full card of good quality Saturday rugby, with the priorities of re-establishing a 1st XV, developing a Colts side to enable the link between a strong youth section and the senior side and fielding regular 2nd XV fixtures.’

Parker added: ‘We had a players’ meeting on Facebook Live and everyone is really excited about playing again. Some of the players have stayed loyal, but some went elsewhere to carry on playing rugby.

‘I am told, though, that some are happy to return once we start playing games again which is brilliant.’

Nathan Moore has been appointed new USP 1st XV head coach.

‘Nathan has been heavily involved with Royal Navy rugby, he’s a really good coach.

‘My job will be to support him and to put in place the building blocks and the right environment around him.

‘I want people to know that we’re a community club and open to all - not just anyone in the services.

‘It’s a good combination having Nathan with his Naval connections and myself, who has no Naval background at all.

‘Both elements - in the Navy and outside it - are equally important to me. With my university links, perhaps I can bring in some players who are capable of playing a good level of adult rugby.’