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Dylan Nel, our Clifton Rugby export

Pursuing his rugby dreams

Clifton Old Boy (College 2010) and former 1st XV captain, Dylan Nel is a quality Clifton rugby export who has built up an impressive career since heading to New Zealand in 2015.

Our Clifton Old Boys’ Association recently caught up with Dylan for a short Q & A.

Hi, Dylan. Great to (re)connect with a Clifton Old Boy! Perhaps a short intro for those who don't know you?

Hi, my name is Dylan Nel.
I matriculated from Clifton College in 2010. I was born in Durban. I am from a family of 4 and have a twin brother who also went to Clifton College. I relocated to New Zealand in 2015 as a 23-year-old to pursue my rugby career.
I am currently living in Japan with my Kiwi partner.

Tell us a little about your rugby journey since moving to NZ?

I made the move to New Zealand in 2015 to play rugby for Sumner Rugby Club and the West Coast as I didn’t have a work visa so wasn’t eligible to make the NPC team.

The following year I was granted a work visa and managed to make the wider training group with Canterbury and joined the squad for the remainder of the year.  I was lucky enough to get my first cap and we later went on to win the championship. 

In 2017 I joined the Crusaders for their preseason block and was in and out of the team for injury cover. At the conclusion of the 2017 club season, I was privileged enough to win Player of the Year for the Christchurch Competition and Top Try Scorer for that year. I went on to play another 4 games for Canterbury, most of them were Ranfurly Shield Games (2) and 2 in-season games. Canterbury went on to win the Mitre10 Cup for the 3rd year in a row.

In 2018 I played in the Brisbane 10’s for the Crusaders. I then moved down to Dunedin (Otago) and signed a 2-year deal. In 2019 I signed with the Chiefs for the Super Rugby Campaign and played 4 games that season. I received the Mana Kotiate Award for the most outstanding work ethic and professionalism, both on and off the field. I signed for another 2 years with Otago and then joined the highlanders for preseason 2020-21.

Currently, I am signed with the Mitsubishi Dynaboars who are based in Tokyo, Japan for 2 years where they have been promoted to the top league. 

What are some of your fond Clifton memories and experiences that had a big impact on you while at school?

Making friends from all walks of life. My fondest memories were the locker room chats and lunchtime laughs.  

As far as experiences that left a lasting impact: playing waterpolo at a high level has helped me learn skills like performing under pressure and commitment.

This has enabled me to apply these skills to my rugby career.

A lasting take away from your time at Clifton?

No matter what life gives you, you can always navigate your path through hard work and dedication.

What do you attribute your success to? What is your ethos or creed?

The wolf climbing the mountain is always hungrier than the one at the top.

What has motivated you to endorse our campaign to reconnect our Old Boys through our platform, CliftonConnect?

To hopefully inspire the up-and-coming young Clifton gents and to reconnect with old peers.

What is your message to other Clifton boys to inspire them to get involved?

Make the most of every opportunity and have fun! You never know where life can take you!

Thanks so much, Dylan. It was great hearing from you and we wish you all the best for your rugby journey in Japan!

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