No chance for Mumm to relax in retirement

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Waratahs and Wallabies lock Dean Mumm is set to hang up the boots this year, but the 33-year-old won’t be riding quietly off into the sunset.

Instead, Mumm will be training for a trek to the North Pole, a rare chance to honour a cause close to his heart, raising money for UK-based charity Borne, a premature birth research foundation.

Mumm and wife, Sarah, lost two premature babies as they tried to become parents, before finally having son Alfie in 2015.

“It will be a 16-day mission, kicking off in March next year, before Mumm makes the transition into a more corporate lifestyle.

“While you’re playing rugby it’s pretty hard to give back in that sense to what you want to do and to a charity, but there's this charity in the UK called Borne, who focus on a lot of research into premature birth and next year I’m going to walk to the North Pole,” he said.

“I don’t really know how they came up with that as a suggestion to do but they offered me a position and it’s something I’m really looking forward to doing and more importantly, the whole process of raising money and raising awareness for a massive cause (close) to my family.”

Mumm has known for most of the season that this would be his last, but opted to wait until now to make that choice public, with the entire Waratahs playing group and many staff watching on in the process.

The second rower was sitting in those player packs when Phil Waugh and Al Baxter announced their retirements and the 33-year-old spoke often of the gratitude he had towards his teammates as they sat behind him on Wednesday.

It was a moment he never thought he'd have, after leaving for Exeter in 2012, watching on as the Waratahs claimed their first Super Rugby title, believing he'd played his last game in Australian rugby.

A return for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, changed all that and gave Mumm a second crack at Super Rugby, with the team he'd loved since he was a small child.

“Definitely when I left here in 2012 I never thought I’d play for the Waratahs or the Wallabies again,” he said.

“At that stage I hadn’t played for the Wallabies for 18 months so to do it again another 25-30 times, it’s been pretty special and something you don’t take for granted."

Mumm's only hope in the sunset of his career is that in his second Waratahs stint he was able to give something back.

“When you give it up and leave it, you understand what it is to mean to come back.

“Hopefully, it’s something I’ll have personified since I’ve been back and treasure the moments you do have when you’re in the jerseys.

Mumm, whose brother Greg works on helping athletes transition after sports, is especially conscious of the need for plans after the sport, working one day a week this year in preparation for his retirement.

Though he won’t be playing anymore, Mumm said he wouldn’t ever be able to cut his rugby ties.

“I think it’s foolish to think you cut yourself off,” he said.

“I’ve been doing it for such a long time that if you do, it’s a part of who you are, it’s an identity. I’m very proud to call myself a rugby player, a person from Sydney Uni, a Waratah, an Exeter Chief, a Wallaby ultimately.

“I’ll never lose that sense of identity and I’m extremely proud to have done that. I’ll always be that, I’ll just have a suit on, that’s the difference.”

The Waratahs have four regular season games left for the year, while Mumm hopes to add to his 57 Tests during Wallabies season as well.