New Edinburgh Rugby second row Perry-John Parker today confirmed he views a move from English Championship side Esher as a chance to qualify for Scotland on residency grounds after three years.
Scottish Rugby’s declared policy of “Project Signings”, which has provoked ire in some quarters and admiration in others has, clearly, been put on the Murrayfield statute book at exactly the right time as Parker and his ambitions are concerned.
“I will be Scottish qualified in three years, and playing for Scotland is very much an aim,” says the 6ft 8in Parker, who has a degree in fashion and textiles and who has given up a job predicting trends on the catwalk in order to pursue a rugby cap.
In that regard the example of Tim Visser, born in Holland but now eligible for Scotland, is a source of inspiration.
“I’ll take encouragement from Tim Visser. That is a good platform to work from – seeing people like Tim getting into Edinburgh’s team first and going from there,” said Parker.
Of course, when selecting Visser for the current tour of Australasia, Andy Robinson, the Scotland coach, made it clear that international rugby had to be first and foremost an affair of the heart.
“You want to see if a player has a lot of passion to not only play for a club, but also for a country,” Robinson told the Evening News, adding: “You have got to be passionate about playing for a country, and that is as true for Tim as for any Scottish-born player. That is a key element for me.”
Once again Parker feels circumstances are on his side: “I feel Scottish enough at the moment. My aim is to push for that [cap]. I’ll set my goals high and see what happens. My family is background is Celtic; my Dad’s side is Welsh. I have more of a Celtic background anyway and feel at home here.”
Parker snr played rugby himself “for a team near Gatwick” while his brother plays in Spain. However, it is a grandfather to whom he owes his Christian name – along with one of the music industry’s greatest talents.
“My grandfather is called ‘John’ and he was a huge fan of Perry Como. So, I was named after both of them,” said Parker, who admits to listening to “old-time crooners – but maybe not too much before matches”.
As for the fashion connection, Parker believes it will help his rugby to already have a degree to fall back on, especially as his was sponsored by the Italian fashion giant Cerutti who paid for the material enabling him to put together ten men’s fashion outfits for a final graduate fashion week.
“I stopped rugby for a year to take time out to get a business background sorted for after rugby. Some friends don’t have anything to fall back on and that would be worrying for me.
“Besides, it’s nice to step away from rugby for a bit with another interests. I feel I’ve done the right thing and there are occasions when my two interests can combine.
“For example, I designed a new jersey in traditional black and yellow for the Esher club. Also, I have a few contacts at Eden Park, the fashion house which is partly owned by [ex-France centre] Franck Mesnel.
“I might do my own thing in later life using contacts built through rugby, try and build a portfolio geared towards guys who are of bigger build.
“It’s nice that rugby is featuring more in lifestyle matters. It’s good for the game when there is a fresher style to rugby.”
If it is no surprise to learn that away from rugby Perry’s main sporting pursuit is tennis then it is even less of a surprise that his favourite player is Roger Federer, something of a fashion icon himself.
“Federer’s a bit of a hero of mine,” he says. “I’ll be cheering Federer at Wimbledon next week because I’d love to see him win the tournament one more time,” said the 24-year-old.
It is all a different world from the Haywards Heath club through which Parker progressed to play for Esher whose chairman happens to be BBC sports presenter John Inverdale.
“Haywards Heath was a real learning experience – a lot more physical and featuring guys who had come down the leagues.
“You learn a lot from the old-school heavy-heads and I count myself fortunate to have played at that level.”