Sergio Parisse takes first coaching role since hanging up his boots - Ruck

Sergio Parisse takes first coaching role since hanging up his boots

Former Italy captain Sergio Parisse, who retired from rugby just last week, has wasted no time immersing himself back into the sport.

The 39-year-old, in a lengthy Instagram post, expressed his gratitude towards everyone who supported him throughout his illustrious career, while also reminiscing about the moment he realized rugby was more than just a hobby.

Parisse’s final appearance as a professional saw him lift the Challenge Cup, scoring in the final against Glasgow Warriors. It was a fitting end to a remarkable 20-year career that showcased his durability and longevity, qualities few could match.

“I remember the coach’s first indications: “pass the ball back”… yes, run and advance by passing the ball backwards or at most on the same line,” Parisse wrote.

“At the beginning it wasn’t so obvious, but day after day, training after training, it became normal… I stared at the ball as it spun to try to anticipate its direction before it bounced on the ground… so beautiful, what memories!

“If I had to describe the precise moment in which I understood that rugby was not just a pastime but something much bigger, I would say that the answer closest to the truth is when at the age of eight I participated in a tournament with my club… I remember a precise action that triggered something in me that I would carry with me throughout my career: two guys passed the ball running towards the goal area, calm, almost joking, while my teammates watched them from afar without even trying to stop them. So I started running desperately to try to tackle them and not let them score and after a long sprint, when I reached the one who had the ball in his hand, I dived to tackle him from behind, getting a cleat on the face… a lot of nosebleeds came out and after that day, and for all the other games I played until I was 39, I told myself that I wanted to be stronger than the others, I wanted to be the one to have the ball in my hand and run to score the try. God only knows how many other times I’ve lost in my life and how many more I’ve been hurt, but since that day I haven’t let go of the rugby ball, at home, in the garden, at school… I went to the club 2/3 hours before of training to make passes trying to catch targets: the Hs, a flag, a step in the grandstand, even my sister, at home, had to catch the ball that I passed or kicked to her. I had different types of ball, always rugby, some bigger, some smaller, some foam with which I trained to kick drops in the kitchen!

“How many memories, how many years have passed, it really seems that time has flown by, how much I would like to continue playing. I don’t think I will ever be able to explain the feeling that I will have for life for rugby and from that day, 91 to today, 2023, I have always tried to be the best rugby player possible!

“Thank you dad for playing rugby, thank you mum for taking me to play every week, even with a 39° fever to see my teammates training, or when training was canceled due to the rain and I asked you to take me anyway in case there was any other boy present to make even just two passes… And thanks to my sister, for being my “teammate at home” for so many years. Thanks to every single coach, from the first ones of the Club Universitario de La Plata, to those of the national youth teams, those of Benetton Rugby.

“Thanks to John Kirwan for having believed in me at only 18, making my debut in the senior national team, thanks to Max Guazzini for allowing me to discover Paris and the Stade Français, thanks to Nick Mallet for having entrusted me with the captain’s armband at 24 and thanks to every single coach I had in France and during my 142 appearances in the blue shirt. Thanks to Toulon for adopting me as a “grown up” giving me the chance to win a European trophy at almost 40 years old.

“Thanks to my fans: like you there is no one in the world! Your affection and unconditional support have made successes special and disappointments more bearable. Thank you my love for coming into my life in my darkest moment, making me discover what love was, supporting me in every single moment and giving me two wonderful children who are our greatest pride!

“And last but not least (as Snoop Dog would say) I would like to thank ME! I would like to thank ME for always believing in ME, I would like to thank ME for working harder and harder, making invisible sacrifices for everyone but which made the difference! I would like to thank ME for always being consistent and sincere in every single moment of this long and wonderful life as a rugby player.”

He took up his first coaching role with Toulon, joining his former club for pre-season.Despite retiring, Parisse wasted no time transitioning to a coaching role, joining his former club, Toulon, for pre-season preparations.

It is clear that his passion for rugby continues to drive him, and his wealth of experience and knowledge will undoubtedly contribute to the development of future generations in the sport.

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SERGIO PARISSE: Toughest Opponents

#5. David Pocock (Australia)

The flanker, who was capped 83 times over an 11-year Wallabies career, opted against returning to his Japanese Top League club, the Panasonic Wild Knights, for another season in 2020. Already well-known for his activism on social justice and environmental issues, the 32-year-old will now dedicate his time to conservation.

Parisse said: “Nobody tested me physically as much as Pocock. He was physically the perfect rugby player.”

DID YOU KNOW? Born in Zimbabwe, Pocock moved to Australia as a teenager and played for the Australia national rugby team