Rugby

Plymstock Albion Oaks confirm the arrival of Parkes as their new head coach

PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks have confirmed that former Plymouth Albion, Brixham and Devon boss Dan Parkes will be their new head coach.

Parkes will join current coach Aidan Taylor and Mark Lenthall in a new-look set-up at Horsham Fields for the 2020-21 season.

Former Royal Navy prop Parkes has had a year out of rugby to concentrate on his sportswear business but obviously feels he can combine that with coaching Plymstock.

Oaks were gutted to miss out on promotion from the Cornwall/Devon League by just 0.37 of a point in the curtailed 2019-20 campaign, but hope they can push again next season for a place in Western Counties West.

“Dan Parkes has confirmed today that he is going to be Oaks’ head coach next season,” said current coach Taylor. “I think it is going to be good for the club.

“Dan has been at Albion, Brixham and coached Devon so he is a high-profile coach. Hopefully, he can push us on to the next level.”

Taylor added: “I think we should be pushing for a promotion spot. We have been building for it for a while now. With a few adjustments – a new coach in and fresh ideas – I think we will be ready to go.

“I think we are going to retain most of our players, so it is just about getting a few more in.

“We have now got the big coach with lots of contacts – everyone knows who he is – so hopefully we can get a few key positions that we are lacking. Hopefully, we can have a really good squad next year.”

Cullompton and Saltash are coming down from Western Counties West and Withycombe, who are unbeaten in a year, are coming up from Devon One.

“It is going to be a tough old league with Saltash and Cullompton coming down and the likes of Pirates and Topsham looking like they have really pushed on in the last nine months,” said Taylor. “We know it is not going to be easy. I think next year will be harder.

“This year was a real chance for us to go up, but due to coronavirus it didn’t happen.

“But, hopefully, we can get a buzz going with the new coaching set-up and people will take a look and fancy it here.”

Although all rugby activities are suspended at the moment due to the coronavirus, Oaks have been doing a lot of work at their ground ready for when the sport can return.

“There’s a group of us trying to improve facilities at the moment, like pitch drainage and building a new gym,” said Taylor.

“We are also making our pitch wider. It was only 60 metres wide but we are making it the full width of 70m.

“A lot of work is going on at the club, even though we are in isolation. We are sticking to the two-metre rule but working hard ready for when rugby does return.”

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