With Super Rugby kicking off in a fortnight's time, and the Australian Men's and Women's Rugby Sevens teams defending their Sydney Sevens title this weekend, the 2019 Australian Rugby season is well and truly upon us.
With that in mind, RUPA reached out to all of the current and former players on our Board to find out their thoughts on the year ahead; today, we hear from former RUPA President, and current Director, Dean Mumm.
Dean, what are you most excited about, from an Australian Rugby perspective, in 2019?
"Firstly, I am pretty excited that I am not playing given the heat outside! The benefit of being an old bloke looking back means that I don't have to worry about that pre-season...
"Nonetheless, I am pretty excited that it's come back around because I've had enough of the cricket season and I'm really looking forward to seeing the Aussie Super Rugby teams ripping in and getting some wins. I think we're pretty well placed in terms of the emergence of new talent and the existing talent making good headway into what is a massive year, with the Rugby World Cup in Japan on the horizon. I want to see everybody firing and making sure that we're in good stead come September and October."
Which Australian player(s) are you most looking forward to watching in action this year, and why?
"I think there's been such a massive movement among Women's Rugby in Australia at the moment, and when I look at that Women's Sevens team there is a real mix of the older heads in Shannon Parry, Sharni Williams and Alicia Quirk, and then the incredible young talent coming through that has been picked up off the back of the AON Uni 7s series and that particular emergence will be really exciting to watch.
"I am looking forward to seeing the impact that Chucky Stannard can have as a Coach in there, and Rob Horne and Stephen Hoiles with the Men's Rugby Sevens team as well, and I see that same mix of young players emerging as a consistent theme across all professional programs here.
"Being a former Waratah myself, you have younger guys like Jack Dempsey and Ned Hanigan who now have three or four years and some Test experience under the belt, and I am really excited to see what they can do. It's a big year for the NSW Waratahs and then finally, I'm a bit excited about the Reds who have an average age of roughly 23 and there's always bolters in a Rugby World Cup year who can make a bit of a difference; I think it might come from up there and it'll be bloody exciting to see."
What does serving on the RUPA Board mean to you?
"Uniquely as you leave playing sport professionally yourself you get a wider perspective of what it means within the community and from that end you try and leverage between what you know from when you were playing with what you're learning once you've left that full-time environment.
"From my experience, there's a huge benefit in trying to bridge that gap for transition and trying to get people prepared for it as early as possible when they're in the midst of their athletic career. You don't have to lose focus on what you're doing, and it's important to be excellent at what your doing, but to have that thought and be as diverse and varied with your interests as possible is going to help you later on.
"That means the most to me, aiding that and retaining a personal involvement in the game and into RUPA as I place I care about."
What do you think is the single most pressing issue facing Australian Rugby heading into 2019?
"I actually think that the biggest opportunity for Australian Rugby this year is to sort things out off the field.
"If you don't get your governance and understanding right on the back end, then you won't get it right on the front end, so on the back of a pretty disappointing 2018 year there's some great opportunity to hit back in 2019.
"I'm super excited to see Scott Johnson back in Australian Rugby, I think he'll have an immediate impact, and while I was never coached by him guys that I know loved working with him and he developed a brilliant rapport with them so I hope that can happen as well.
"When you're having a tough time you can sometimes have opportunities off the back end and it's time for us to realise that."
What is your all-time favourite Australian Rugby memory?
"It's hard to pick one favourite memory, but the bits that we don't always talk about, going on tour as a team and the quirky characters you meet along the journey, they stand out.
"There's some great personalities in sport and moments linked with that, and while I don't necessarily miss touring now I am super glad I got to do that along the journey. Getting a sniff of doing that with the Classic Wallabies last year was excellent and helped me to understand the importance of that, and the ability you have to affect the community and improve and inspire people's lives.
"These little things that you can achieve with a little bit of effort, yet make a big difference, you can't necessarily do in regular life so that's one of the special memories I treasure about the game."