South Africa Sevens star Dylan Sage has declared he wants to play for Wales and prove himself a late bloomer at Test level like Hadleigh Parkes.
The 30-year-old centre from Cape Town, who currently plays for Montauban in the French ProD2, has a Cardiff-born father and will become eligible for Wales in December under new World Rugby rules.
“If I can reach my goal of playing Test rugby that would be a dream for me,” he told RugbyPass. “That is my goal and running out for Wales would really appeal to me as my father is from Cardiff, and even speaks some Welsh.
“You have to be very good to play Sevens for South Africa, so now I want to make my mark on the 15-a-side game. I think I’ve got the attributes to play Test rugby and playing rugby in the UK in either the English Premiership or for a Welsh region is something I want to explore.”
Sage’s grandparents Mike and Pat, along with his dad Chris, emigrated to South Africa in the 1980s to run an electronics business. His younger brother Jarryd had a spell with the Dragons, making 23 appearances between 2017 and 2019.
“I still have some family in Wales. Growing up, me and my brother were always told stories of Wales from my dad and my grandparents,” said Dylan. “I was born in South Africa and so I always supported the Springboks, but I do have that affiliation with Wales. I do always want Wales to do well and I like to support them. Watching Wales play was very special.”
Sage made 134 appearances for the Blitzboks South African Sevens side and was part of the squad which won a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He then focused on the 15-a-side game, playing Super Rugby for the Bulls before heading for the Northern Hemisphere.
Under the new laws, which you can read about here, players are allowed to switch international allegiance after a three-year stand-down period if they qualify for that nation through birth or a parent or grandparent.
“I’d love to play in the English Premiership or the United Rugby Championship,” he said.
“I’m ambitious and even though I’d be considered as an older player there’s plenty of miles left in the tank and I want to prove myself. Playing sevens at such a high level has given me a skillset that some other players don’t have and I think it could have prolonged my career.
“You look at someone like Hadleigh Parkes who made such an impact for Wales when he was in his 30s. My focus is performing at club level and whatever happens after that is a bonus.”
Outlining his strengths, he said: “I’ve got a good defensive mind and I read an attack quite well. As a 13, it can be as if you are on an island somewhere by yourself, so you have to make quick reads and be able to communicate. I’m a direct ball runner, and I’ve got good skills from my time playing sevens. I’m not a small guy at 6’2 and 100 kilos, so I can well manage in the contact area. I’ve got quick feet, and I can move quite quickly. I think I’m a good leader and I communicate very well with people.”
Sage is the grandson of Doug Hopwood, who played 22 Tests for South Africa between 1961 and 1965.
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