Tristin Parsons blew away some of South Africa’s top rugby coaches during an Investec International Rugby Academy course at St Charles College last week.

The Margate youngster was one of 22 players who attended the four-day intermediate players course where he worked on his skills under the expert tutelage of ex-professional players and coaches Braam van Straaten, Greg Miller, Paul Anthony, Ian MacDonald, Greig Wegerle, Ruan Fourie, Marius Hurter, Brent Russell, Ryno Combrinck, Hentie Maartens, Nico Breedt and Wayne Munn.

Tristin, who has Symbrachydactyly – a congenital abnormality of the hand – was invited to the camp after the renowned academy learned about the young scrumhalf in a recent article on eHowzit and left the elite coaches in awe with his work ethic and impressive skillset.

A beaming Tristin said it was an unforgettable experience. “I loved every second of the camp,” the Suid-Natal Primary grade six learner told eHowzit.

“I enjoyed the passing technique training the most. It was very cool and exciting to meet and learn from the coaches. That was the highlight of the camp for me. Every boy should join this training camp if they are serious about rugby.”

Tristin-Parsons-Investec Rugby Academy

Tristin Parsons with coaches (back from left) Greg Miller, Nico Breedt, Hentie Maartens, Brent Russell, Marius Hurter, Ian MacDonald, (front from left) Ryno Combrinck and Braam van Straaten.

His mom Lindie said, “It’s wonderful that Tristin got this opportunity and we’d like to thanks Investec for inviting him. He couldn’t stop talking about everything he learned on the camp and he really got world-class training.”

The invitation came at the perfect time after Tristin suffered a setback during the recent Sharks Primary Schools Tournament.

His excitement of being selected for the Southern KwaZulu-Natal Under-12s quickly turned into disappointed when he was injured in a high tackle early in the provincial trials. He was treated in hospital where nausea added to his woes.

The Investec camp was thus just what he needed, Lindie said.

“The camp really cheered him up and re-motivated him. He’s so hyped that he wants the season to start now,” she said.

Tristan Parsons SKZN rugby teamTristin singled out Miller as his favourite coach. “Coach Greg showed me how to pass the correct way with my left hand. Thank you for teaching me the things I need to know to make myself the best I can be at rugby, the sport I love with all my heart.”

Miller, Investec International Rugby Academy general manager and skills coach, said it was a pleasure to host Tristin and hailed his ability to rise above adversity. “We’re in a position to help and assist passionate young rugby players improve and assist them in reaching their dreams, so it was an easy decision to invite Tristan because he fits all of these criteria. “He definitely has a strong desire to not allow his handicap to get in his way. He seems to push harder to ensure it isn’t a handicap and he has no problem competing with everyone in all aspects of the game.

“I was amazed at his courage and determination and how little impact his handicap actually had on his performance. He’s a true champion and a great example to all of us out there.” Miller said Tristin’s strong will and exuberance are matched by his raw talent. “He’s a fantastic young rugby player. He epitomises all that the game of rugby offers in life. He’s hard working, disciplined and focussed on his goals and dreams. He’s a great example of what you can achieve through hard work and perseverance. He was an absolute dream on the course and got stuck in. “Youngsters should always strive to improve their skills, but he clearly has worked hard at these and he really did stand out in this regard. He has a really good skillset and what really impressed me was the passion and commitment he had during the sessions. He just seemed to try that much harder than everyone else.”

Miller added the sky’s the limit for dedicated Tristin.

“It’s always difficult to predict what level youngsters will eventually achieve in their careers. There are so many different factors that can alter the direction and futures of these players and success is not guaranteed in any way.

“Having said that, one fact is certain in life and that’s that no-one achieves anything without hard work. Tristan is clearly not scared to work hard and he has a great desire to achieve in the game, so I have no doubt that this will stand him in really good stead in his future. He has a good base to work from and I’m sure he will continue to improve the more he plays the game.”