Ireland international Mullally has refused to stay in the Super League after Toronto Wolfpack collapsed to join AS Carcassonne. “For me, it’s just about enjoying rugby again and being here to play definitely brings it back,” he said.
By Marc Bazeley
Last updated: 22/02/21 15:07 pm
Anthony Mullally apologizes for the delay of a few minutes at the start of this interview. A truck had blocked one of the narrow streets on the road to his home in Carcassonne, delaying his return for that scheduled Zoom call.
Navigating the arcane one-way system of the historic town about 50 miles east of Toulouse is one of the smallest challenges Mullally has faced since seizing a long-sought opportunity to play poker. rugby league in the south of France last September.
The older one may have learned to speak French – he describes his progress as “very good” – although this was something the 29-year-old was fully prepared for, being drawn to the area by the lifestyle and the opportunity to live a new experience. culture on and off the rugby field.
And although his initial hope of ever making it to the Catalan Dragons did not materialize, Mullally is taking the opportunity to combine playing in the Elite 1 domestic competition with AS Carcassonne while pursuing interests other than rugby.
“I have four or five good years left and I could still play in the Super League if I wanted to, but I’m at a point where even though I love rugby and I’m grateful for everything it has given me. , it’s not the only thing in my life anymore, ”said Mullally Sky Sports.
“I always get a goal and still enjoy it, but I branch out into other things for after rugby. Coming to France gives me that extra time to do it and obviously I’m in a nice little town in the south of France.
“I do weekly French classes and I can tell the boys what I’ve done, what I’m doing and ask them about things, but I can’t have a smooth conversation yet – give me some more months and I’ll get there. “
Mullally, however, was never afraid to broaden his horizons. Indeed, former Widnes Vikings, Huddersfield Giants and Leeds Rhinos were one of those who joined the Toronto Wolfpack revolution and helped the Canadian club win promotion to the Super League in 2019.
This meant he was also one of the players left with an uncertain future when the Wolfpack’s finances were hit in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, forcing the club to withdraw from the Super League before restarting the season last August and then being rejected for a return in 2021.
At this point Mullally had already agreed to move to Carcassonne on a one-season contract, having spent the post-lockdown summer in Cornwall living in his campervan, pursuing his surfing passions and returning to the nature while doing part-time work as a landscaper.
“When Covid first came in I bought a van, put it up, and went to Cornwall when they were sorting out when we could come back to training and all the rest.” , Mullally said.
I’m at a point where even though I love rugby and am grateful for everything it has given me, it’s not the only thing in my life anymore.
“I was doing a bit of landscaping to pay the bills and I didn’t have a mortgage because I sold my house in Leeds the other year so I came to Cornwall because I love to surf and be part of the elements of nature.
“I was in my van, surfing almost everyday and doing a little work, and then I started on events that opened up a whole new side to me which is great.
“The more rigid structures we have about how things should be, the more we are willing to be disappointed, so I’m just trying to be fluent in those structures. That’s kind of how I live my life.”
While many of his former Toronto teammates have made deals with Super League or Championship clubs, Mullally will likely stay with Carcassonne beyond the end of the French national season, which runs from October to June.
This will allow him, if the Covid-19 restrictions allow it, to return to Cornwall this summer and continue to provide outdoor retreats for those who want to escape the stresses and strains of modern life.
“I started retreats just to encourage men to come back to nature and try to disconnect from the crazy tech age we are in, and create a space for men to be authentic and talk about what it is. ‘they necessarily think they are a man,’ Mullally said.
“It just came to me, going through a change in myself with some old constructs breaking down in my mind of how I thought things were and how I want to be seen. You still see it now in the society.
“It’s more about reconnecting with who we are and being in nature, I feel like when we’re there with a group of men, it brings us back to something that we can tap into. Plus, a period. extended in the off-grid nature takes us back to the way we’re supposed to live, so that’s what we mean. “
For me it’s just about enjoying rugby again and playing here definitely brings it back.
Aside from the matches which are still played behind closed doors due to the ongoing pandemic, life on the rugby side is going well for Mullally in Carcassonne as well and the regular weekends during the season allow him to surf and ride. explore the countryside in the Pyrenees.
The 11-time French champions are currently third in the standings ahead of Saturday’s match against the Catalans of St-Esteve XIII – the reserve team of the Dragons – and Mullally, winner of the 2017 Super League Grand Final, could hardly have been able to ask for a better place.
“It’s a proud club and a proud culture too, and you can see it all over town, which is really cool,” Mullally said.
“To be honest I didn’t really know what the standard looked like and assumed it was good. It’s tough, really physical, and the French are very passionate and love rugby.
“For me, it’s just about enjoying rugby again and being here to play definitely brings it back.”