Mumm: “Tech will help us make the right decisions for the game”

By International Rugby Players

In the latest of a series looking at the men and women of our Players’ Council, we speak to former Australian lock Dean Mumm, who sits on our Men’s XV High-Performance group.  

Dean Mumm is up late in Sydney to talk to us. He’s been working all day but the former Wallaby second-row is still in the mood to talk rugby and throw around a few Harry Potter analogies. More on that later.

“Mummy” as he’s known, is a member of IRP’s Player Council and sits on the Men’s XVs High-Performance group with Conrad Smith, Ugo Monye and Jamie Roberts.

“It’s a great way to stay involved with the game,” he says when asked about the group, who recently met in London.

“I was always intrigued by how the administration (of rugby) ran. When I was playing, I was interested in the bargaining agreement discussions and negotiations in RUPA (Rugby Union Players Assocociation) here in Australia.

“With regards to this high-performance group, we have to commend World Rugby, who cop a fair bit of slack, for pulling this together with IRP. It’s a pretty difficult job and they’ve done well to pull this group in.”

Mumm, a Rugby World Cup finalist with Australia in 2015, admits it’s hard for current players to get deeply involved with the administration of the game, given the amount of work they have on their plate.  

“When you’re playing, you have to be laser focused on your performance during the week. Inherently, it can be a pretty selfish pursuit sometimes,’s what you’ve chosen to do and you’re going to give it your all. 

“When you retire, you get a different perspective and you move back to being a fan. You don’t really understand what’s happening on the inside. That perspective is often really valuable. You become a supporter and become part of a group that buys tickets to the game.”

“For me, that’s really interesting. You don’t get that perspective when you’re playing – in fact I actively ignored the noise when I was playing.”

“So to have that new perspective and still have access and understand what’s going on (in the game)…it’s a cool story to tell the other way. Like a fan that understands the high-performance element.”

Mumm then goes on to further explain himself by using a Harry Potter analogy.

“We have a group with a few blokes who used to play (rugby) called the “Squib Club”. You understand the magical world but you don’t have your wand anymore! So we’re somewhere between Squib and Muggles in the magical world of rugby, haha!”

Away from watching Harry Potter flicks, the 39-year-old now works in sports insurance and in his new profession, is aware of the “safety versus spectacle” issue that cuts across all sports.

“The question is how do you find the right balance between entertainment and engagement and player safety. It’s a really fascinating battle.

“I feel that so many people talk a good game on player safety – and they try hard – but at the end of the day it’s us players as a collective….this is where there’s a real space for the players’ voice.”

That’s a message he feels the current crop need to understand.

“To current players, I would say that it’s your body, your knees, your shoulders, your brain…player safety and load is a really interesting area to speak up on.”

Mumm is also an advocate for using tech to help solve some of the problems facing the sport.

“Similar to a GPS unit, an instrumented mouth-guard will be able to look at your collective (match and training) load. So you’ll be able to have informed discussion about how to manage that and whether a player has had enough. My generation and those that came before weren’t privy to the same tech or information and so i think there’s some really exciting stuff going on…everyone is an interested party so i think that things will change for the better. 

“I think there’s optimism moving forward. I really think some of the tech will be awesome in changing the way that people will make decisions with data rather than intuition and that’s really where you want to get to.” 

He may be six years out of the game, but Dean Mumm is excited for the future of the sport and how he can play a role in it. 

International Rugby Players

/ Contributor

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