The 28-year-old South African-born lock, who also played several seasons at Westcombe Park, becomes Elthamians’ ninth new signing of the summer.
Flashman revealed it was a phone call from a former Combe team-mate, now OEs captain Hamish Barton, which ultimately convinced him to make the move to College Meadow. As he explains. “The Wimbledon DOR was in discussions with Gav [Lach] about players and he was aware that I was looking to step up into National One,” Flashman said. “Gav gave me a call showing his interest, explaining the club’s goals and how he saw me fitting into that plan.
“Also I know Hamish Barton from our Westcombe Park days. I had a candid phone conversation with him about the club. He was honest and open and I know he is a good leader on and off the park. It ultimately helped me make my mind up.
“One of the main reasons I decided to join OEs was because they are looking to go places and have a clear vision on how to get there and what infrastructure is required to push on even further long term. As a player you want to push to become the best player you can be, playing at the best level.”
A product of the Sharks Academy in Durban, Flashman initially came to England as a 19-year-old for what was intended to be a short stay. “I moved to Devon for what was meant to be a few months before returning to the Sharks Academy,” Flashman said, “and I haven’t left yet! I played for Brixham, Devon age groups and seniors and a few games for Plymouth Albion in the British and Irish Cup before moving up to London.
“From there, I had a few seasons at Westcombe Park where we had a good team and some great players but couldn’t quite get the promotion we were hunting. I left Combe because I wanted to be playing nearer to where I was living in South West London and to be able to have a crack at playing with my younger brother.”
Flashman joined Wimbledon, newly promoted to National Three and thriving at the time under the coaching of Harlequins duo Nick Evans and Nick Easter. “The first season at Wimbledon we were finding our feet in National Three and the second season we were promoted,” Flashman said. “We had a very good group of guys that year, with a few going on to play Championship and Shute Shield after that season.”
Flashman led Wimbledon in their first foray in National Two South last season and his impressive form saw him make several appearances for Harlequins’ second string in the A-League. However, it proved to be a disappointing season for the club as they were relegated on the last day off the season despite a battling revival after Christmas.
“It was simply a season of two halves,” Flashman said. “I was captain there continuing on from the previous season when we got promoted. Unfortunately for us, we lost many key players at the end of our promotion season. So the first half of last season we hadn’t gelled as a team at all, coupled with the injury tally that seemed to plague the league, we couldn’t find any consistency.
“The second half we came together, the players were a closer group, we had better depth and consistency and we were winning games. We worked so hard and played the last quarter of the season as knockout rugby which was needed to stay up in National Two. We did so well that it came down to the last game of the season after we hadn’t won a game in the first half. The effort was immense.”
Now Flashman has his eyes set firmly on making an impact at his new club. “I have no experience of National One,” he said, “but I am looking forward to the challenge, especially now that two or three of the Wimbledon boys have signed for other Nat 1 clubs and I’ll get to come up against them.”
He continued: “The set piece is something I have developed a love for in my later years, so packing down with the OEs pack will be something I’m looking forward to. The competition in contact areas and in the breakdown is what I do best, but I also love to carry as much as I can - I try and get my hands on the ball a lot no matter which side is attacking.”
Elthamians Director of Rugby Gavin Lach said: “I’m pleased to welcome Dylan to the club. We lost Kenchy at the end of last season with his retirement and Preo [Adam Precoanin] now has the player-coach role and the added responsibilities that come with that this year, so we needed another second row to go alongside Fred Hosking and Charlie Self, who both offer a massive amount of potential, and Dylan fits that bill. He had a good few games for Quins in the A league last season and we will be looking for him to bring that experience to the younger guys in the tight five.”
Updated 12:16 - 17 Jul 2018 by Jon Edwards