Plymouth Albion line up against Blackheath at Brickfields today (Saturday, April 28) in National League One (KO 3pm).
Albion have been without influential fly-half Dan Mugford since February when he initially ruptured a tendon in his finger and went on to break his arm.
He says: “I was in the gym, had a freak accident in the weights room and ended up breaking my arm, so I have been out with that ever since.”
The 26-year-old has been frustrated by his enforced absence: “I am not a good watcher at the best of times as I like to be involved and have an impact, so it has been really frustrating. That said, I think the lads have dug together well.
“There have been some outstanding results and some really good rugby played. It has been hard and I have wanted to be a part of it but at the same time I am really proud of the lads for what they have been doing.”
The number 10 shirt has subsequently been passed between dual-registered Exeter’s Harvey Skinner, former Brixham centre Dean Squire and even head coach Kieran Hallett.
Mugford has been impressed with his replacements: “I think Harvey and Dean have done really well. They have been playing other positions throughout the season and then stepped into a role that requires them to take control and run the show.
“As for the gaffer, it is his trade really. While he doesn’t want to play anymore, he has done it at a great level for most of his career. I am pretty sure he just slotted back in there with no issues at all.”
Despite being sidelined, the former London Scottish, Nottingham and Sale player has remained fully involved with the squad: “I am at every home game cheering the boys on and I have still been coming down to training. I have been trying to add bits where I can and support the boys from afar really.”
With Albion fulfilling an extended season due to re-scheduled fixtures – against Rosslyn Park on May 5 and Loughborough Students on May 12, Mugford has not ruled out an imminent return to action: “I will have to wait and see but it has been six weeks since my op on my arm and it is feeling good. The movement and strength is coming back so I will have to have a chat with the doctors and we’ll see if I can get back on the pitch in the next couple of weeks.”
Mugford, who featured in the two sides’ most recent fixture at Well Hall on the opening day of the season, rates Blackheath as a good team: “Up there they showed that they are a difficult side to play against with some good individuals.
“We want to finish the season on a high. Maybe a few weeks haven’t gone quite as we would have wanted but here in front of our home fans we want to go out there and show them how much it means to us.”
Despite Albion lying two places below last season’s second-placed finish, the popular Devonian says there is much to be proud of.
“As a playing squad we would like to have been slightly higher up the table. That said, we have had a lot of young guys come in and have blooded them into some adult rugby.
“So maybe we are not quite where we want to be but the squad has gelled together and I think a lot more has come from it than just results and league position.”
The Blackheath game is designated a special family day in partnership with Babcock, involving students, teachers and families from Shakespeare Primary School and Weston Mill Community Primary Academy.
The club is also offering deals for this and the final two home games – on May 5 and May 12 – for students and serving and former military personnel.
Students can gain ground entry for £7.50 on production of an NUS card, representing a saving of 50% off the usual price of £15, while serving and former military personnel can gain entry for £10 with valid ID, saving £5 off the usual price.
Plymouth Albion team to face Blackheath at Brickfields on Saturday, April 28 (KO 3pm).
15 Matt Shepherd, 14 Jordan Gott, 13 Dean Squire, 12 Robbie Weeks, 11 Harrison Cully, 10 Kieran Hallett, 9 Cameron Setter, 1 Will Norton, 2 Jamie Salter, 3 Dan Pullinger, 4 Lewis Pearson, 5 Eoghan Grace, 6 Flynn Elworthy, 7 George Mills, 8 Herbie Stupple.
16 Luke Chapman, 17 Benjamin Phillips, 18 Dan Williams, 19 Luke Flack.