By Haden Tye
Dan Mugford has returned to Brickfields after three years away and is looking forward to enjoying his rugby in an Albion shirt again.
The 25-year-old fly-half returns to Albion to help Kieran Hallett’s side in their bid for promotion and can’t wait to get the new season underway. Dan gained a mass of experience playing in the Championship with Nottingham and then with Sale Sharks in the Premiership since his last stay at Albion.
“It’s nice to be back,” said Dan. “I enjoyed my time at the club previously and now with Kieran [Hallett] in charge and the new owners, I am really looking forward to being involved again.
“I know Kieran from playing against him. I played against him a fair few times in the Championship over the years and I have always had a lot of respect for him and I would like to think as he signed me that it is reciprocated. I am looking forward to working with him and bringing some ideas to the table – but mainly getting Plymouth Albion winning rugby games.
“I think promotion is the way the club wants to go. I think Plymouth, as a city, deserves Plymouth Albion to be a bit higher up the leagues and that is where the club is trying to go and to take that next step up and get back in the Championship and establish ourselves in the Championship over the next couple of years. For me personally, whilst that is the end goal, I am just looking forward to coming back and enjoying rugby and enjoying my time on the field.
“The possibilities at the club are endless. With Bruce [Priday] and Dave [Venables] owning the club now, they seem like they are doing everything right. Plymouth is a big city and there is very loyal support already but when success starts to come I am sure the support will also increase and the possibilities are endless. We will just take it one step at a time at the moment and focus on getting a good pre-season in and hopefully getting off to a good start in the National One this year.”
Moving back to Albion appealed to Dan because it provided him with the opportunity to return to Devon and start enjoying his rugby again. Furthermore, Dan will be re-united with a host of past teammates in the Albion dressing room.
“If I am honest I probably had a change of perspective on things,” said Dan. “I have seen a different perspective and had a bit of a change of goalposts. I am from Exeter and I live in Exeter and I wanted to come home to Devon and settle myself for a year at least, so I have moved the goal posts a little bit from constantly trying to be at the very top of the game and playing in the Premiership. I wanted to come home and settle down and get back to enjoying my rugby again and I think that is something I can definitely do at Plymouth.
“Herbie [Stupple] was [at Albion] when I was there. Eoghan Grace has come back this year as well. Jack Arnott was on loan at the time so I know Jack quite well. Dan Williams was there as well.”
In his time away from the club, Dan acquired a vast amount of experience, which he thinks has helped strengthen not only his rugby ability, but also his character. Dan is hoping that this will be reflected in his performance on the pitch.
“I went to Nottingham for two years and from there onto Sale Sharks for a season,” said Dan. “I’ve learned a lot as a player in those three years. I got to learn an awful lot, firstly at Nottingham and working under people like Martin Haag and Ben Johnston there. I was given a lot of responsibility there to be a leader in the squad and trying to command the game.
“Then I went onto Premiership experience and Champions Cup experience that I gained last year and being around the best players. I definitely learned a lot playing-wise, but I also think more recently that I have learned a lot about myself as a person, and I think I have come out as a better person from that and I am hoping that will show not only in my relationship that I will have with the lads but it will also show in my rugby as a positive thing as well.”
Dan is under no illusion that gaining promotion from National League One will be a difficult task, but he is looking forward to the challenges along the way, including facing former teammates.
“It is a tough league,” said Dan. “I think Coventry are going to be fairly strong again. I am quite looking forward to playing them. They have got a few of my old friends. Sam Tuitupou coming from Sale who I have played with this year and that will be nice to face up against him after playing with him. They have got another old Plymouth boy in Heath Stevens, so I am looking forward to playing them. I think they are going to be tough competition.
“This league, with the amount of travel and the different commitments that the players having during the days and not being fully professional, every game is a very tough game. Especially away games, and you can’t ever think a fixture is going to be easy so we will prepare as best as we can and hopefully we can be at the right end of the table come the end of the season.”