When you talk to current and former teammates of Dean Mumm, to a man they speak of somebody who always put the team first, is a caring and dedicated leader, has an extraordinary work ethic and always has a smile on his face.
And as he prepares to play his final Super Rugby match for the Waratahs tonight against the Western Force in Perth, it’s a testament to the selflessness of the man that his mind will no doubt drift to the emotional wellbeing of his opponents, with the Force players still yet to learn if their team will be around in 2018.
This isn’t because Dean is the current RUPA President; he is the current RUPA President because this is how he thinks and how he leads.
“He has shown throughout the year that he has the courage to stand tall and alone on behalf of the players, and speak the truth and speak his mind, and no doubt (the uncertainty of the Force’s future) will be right in the forefront of his mind,” says long-time teammate Tom Carter.
Fellow former Waratahs and current Sydney University teammate Tom Kingston says that Mumm is one of those types of teammates you just want to play alongside.
“Dean has always had a real desire to be better in everything he does,” Kingston said. “He is naturally gifted, but guys like really like playing alongside him as he always wants to give everything he possibly can.
“He has been given numerous leadership positions on and off the field throughout his career and I believe that is because his teammates have a great amount of respect for him,and that permeates on and off the field as he has one of those personalities people are drawn to.”
Waratahs youngster Brad Wilkin agrees, and credits Mumm with playing an enormous role in helping him to adjust to life as a professional Rugby player, and two subsequent serious knee injuries that have seen him yet to make his own Super Rugby debut.
“The type of bloke that Dean is off the field goes a long way to helping young guys with their Rugby,” Wilkin says. “He’s an awesome fella to have a chat to, and that goes a long way for young players as we know we can comfortably approach him and ask any questions about anything we’re unsure of.
“He will always give you his full attention and truth in whatever he tells you, and that’s just Dean.
“From all of his years playing Rugby, he has so much experience and knowledge to share. Dean has been a great support while I have been injured, and constantly checks up on my wellbeing. Every time I walk in to training, he always asks how I am going and has that big smile on his face when he says g’day. It goes a long way, when you’re in a tough mental battle in rehab, having a leader like Dean who is such a happy person around the group and is so positive that he really makes you feel good about coming into work.”
It would have been easy for Mumm to enjoy his last year as a professional player without any additional responsibilities, but following the retirement of long-time teammate Benn Robinson last year Australia’s Rugby players needed a new President to represent them at RUPA; cometh the hour, cometh the man.
“It has been a tough time (for all of Australia’s Rugby players) this year, and a time that has required a significant amount of leadership at the players’ end,” Kingston says.
“Because he has been so heavily involved and so hands-on in dealing with issues that are so tough on all the players behind the scenes, it must have been really tough on him as well. It’s a credit to him that he has dealt with it so well and maintained his balanced approach, and he is always an advocate for the players.
“A number of guys I have spoken to over Australia are so appreciative that he has been the players’ face in the media in terms of advocating for five teams.
“He has done it with so much poise and been firm with his views, which reflect the views of the entire playing group in Australia.”
Typical of Mumm, he has seen this moment coming for a long time and already has plans in place to successfully transition into the next chapter of his life. He has been doing work experience in the insurance industry on the Waratahs’ training-free day, and up-skilling himself every opportunity he gets.
“Dean’s a great role model in regards to continuing to develop your personal toolkit away from Rugby, and I think it is very important for young blokes like us to see how hard he works on that,” Wilkins says.
“Earlier this year, we did a Microsoft Excel course together; Dean was the oldest guy in the class, and probably somebody who has done a lot more study than the rest of us, but he realises that anything he does now during his Rugby career is only going to be beneficial for his days post-footy.
“It gives me a lot of encouragement and motivation to make sure I keep my eye on the ball and continue thinking about what I will do post-Rugby.”
While he wasn’t here for the Waratahs’ 2014 Super Rugby triumph, he takes immense pride in the fact that histeam won a well-overdue championship in his absence, and in general wherever he has gone success has followed, including his time with Exeter in the UK and of course with Sydney Uni and the Wallabies.
“He has had an amazing carer, both domestically and also he was so successful overseas,” Kingston says.
“The success Dean has had over numerous teams is a testament to him, and I know that everybody at Sydney Uni is so immensely proud of everything that he has achieved and the person that he is.”
Carter agrees, and says that the number of people willing and keen to pay tribute to Mumm reflects so well on him.
“It’s a wonderful testament to the person he is, and the career he has had, and I hope that the boys get the job done for him tonight,” Carter says. “He is a really good human who epitomises somebody shining brightly during what is a dark time for Australian Rugby.”
So what’s next for Dean Mumm? Well, there’s still The Rugby Championship and the Spring Tour if Michael Cheika wants to call upon one of his most loyal and trusted leaders, and there’s also a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to be negotiated before his tenure as RUPA President finishes at year’s end (a current player must fill the position).
Then, next March, Dean will trek to the North Pole. It is a rare chance for him to honour a cause close to his heart, raising money for UK-based charity Borne, a premature birth research foundation. Dean and wife Sarah lost two premature babies as they tried to become parents, before finally having son Alfie in 2015.
So in 2017, he’ll be swapping the cold winds of Dunedin and Canberra for those of the Arctic Ocean, where in summer, the warmest time of year, the temperature is right at the freezing point: 0 degrees Celsius.
Typical Dean Mumm; putting himself through something challenging for the benefit of others. Bravo, Mummy!
Dean Mumm Fact File
– Born: 5 March, 1984 (Auckland)
– Club Team: Sydney University
– Super Rugby Caps: 115*
– Super Rugby Points: 60
– Wallaby Caps: 56
– Test Points: 25
– Additional Honours: Wallaby Captain #88, RUPA President