At the end of last season, Plymouth Albion prepared to say “au revoir” to fly half Dan Mugford who had decided to head for France, with the opportunity to play for a Rugby Pro D2 team.
Dan was hit by injury towards the end of the 2017-18 season and was looking at moving on to a new challenge with the French side, despite not speaking the language. But fans of the 26-year-old former Exeter Academy player will be delighted to hear that he is back at the Brickfields ground in time for the pre-season friendlies in August and fully recovered from the injuries that cast a shadow over his time at Albion.
“At the time, going to France seemed the right decision for me, but I’ve since had time to think about it,” admits Exeter-born Dan who played for London Scottish, Nottingham Rugby and Sale Sharks before joining Albion in 2017.
“The fact that Albion have welcomed me back matters a lot. It was hard enough to leave and so when I got back in contact to see if going back was a possibility, that was a great feeling.
“Plymouth Albion is a great club that I enjoy being a part of and that goes from players to coaches, to those behind the scenes and the supporters. The bigger picture was that I felt like I was leaving something that brought me happiness, to chase something that was never going to fulfil what I wanted it to.
“I enjoyed rugby last season at Albion and taking the chance to go to France was something different. Then I realised I could stay at home in Devon, be at Plymouth Albion and have that fulfilment. For me, it’s not just about the rugby, it’s about all aspects of life – friends, family and just being in Devon is a huge pull for me. The closer it got to going the more I realised how I felt.”
Today, back in the Plymouth Albion fold, he says he’s feeling “very optimistic.”
“I wouldn’t want to be a part of it, if it didn’t have a good feel. It’s a place I enjoy being and people I enjoy being around.”
Dan has got back to training with the squad in advance of pre-season friendlies against Bedford Blues (August 10, 7.45pm), Exeter University (August 18, 3pm) and the Cornish Pirates (25 August, 2pm). It’s a return to form after being injured last season when he ruptured a finger tendon and then broke his arm in the gym.
“I played the majority of the season last year and was really enjoying it and then was out from about March,” says Dan. “It was a nasty break and I’ve now got a big metal plate in there. I’ve been working really hard to get the fitness back up and I’m feeling pretty good. I certainly hope to be playing when the season starts. In terms of the strength of the bone, the surgeon has given me the all-clear. There are still a few things to work on, like movement in my wrist.”
With Coventry promoted, Dan shares the opinion of Head Coach at Albion Kieran Hallett that finishing third in the National League last season, they have a good crack at promotion this year.
“I’m very optimistic,” says Dan. “There were a few things going on towards the end of last season, injuries and the like, but it still all ran in together very well. There’s a chance for the guys playing together last year to bring that experience this year.”
Off the pitch things are also going well for Dan with a new opportunity at Ivybridge-based Kioo Marketing where he has a role as a Marketing and Social Media Executive. With sportsmen and women in all disciplines needing a social media presence it’s the chance for Dan, who has Twitter and Instagram accounts, to bring all his experience together.