Croatian-born Filip Perica is thrilled to be signing for Plymouth Albion and the chance to play top level rugby – a sport he has loved since childhood.
“Nobody in my family had played rugby before and then my older brother started playing and I did too. We’ve always been very competitive, like most families, and I fell in love with the sport from the very beginning,” says Filip, 22, from Zagreb.
An injury put paid to his brother’s playing but a fractured ankle turned out to be a lucky break for Filip.
“I was studying sports at university at home when I broke my ankle which meant I couldn’t continue on the course so I looked around for a club to take me on and I ended up in Maidstone, Kent. I had just turned 19 and I’d moved away from home but it was just a great experience to be in the rugby environment. Back home they wouldn’t have three coaches, physios and such good facilities.
“In Croatia rugby isn’t so popular compared to football and handball, although it’s getting better and it’s a growing sport at the moment. I just love it. This year I’ve played rugby union, rugby sevens and even played for Croatia in the European Beach Rugby Championships in Russia.”
From Kent Filip headed to the Westcountry and Taunton. Last season he played for Newton Abbot and joined the Exeter Chiefs Academy while studying at Exeter College. The third year of his studies will be spent at Marjon in Plymouth, the perfect time to join Albion and also the new rugby Academy.
“Having this contract means the world to me,” says Filip. “I’ve never played at such a high level here before and I want to play the best I can. I’m big and fast and I play a really physical game, but I can adapt to how the team plays.
“I’ve been training with the guys and they’re a bunch of great lads. They’ve been really supportive and I’m learning lots from all these experienced players. I really want to be improving and developing and it’s wonderful to be gaining Academy time as well. I can’t wait to get started.”