When he hangs up his boots in years to come, the 2019/20 season was not one that Ross Bundy will look back on with many fond memories, but the former Scotland age-grade internationalist is on the move this summer and looking forward to a new chapter in his rugby career with Narbonne.
At Stirling County, Bundy struggled for game-time in FOSROC Super6 and that led him to Darlington Mowden Park, where fellow Scot Garry Law helped arrange a loan deal until the end of the season.
The back-five forward was beginning to rediscover his best form, only for COVID-19 to bring the season to a premature conclusion.
Now, though, he’s excited about a new challenge across the Channel, and spoke to SCRUM earlier this week.
“I was going to sign for Darlington for another year because I was really enjoying myself down there – it was the happiest I’d been in a while, but then my agent told me that there had been some interest in France.
“I’ve always had contact with clubs in France, but they’ve been hesitant in the past because I wasn’t part of the Scottish Rugby Academy. It was the same in England.”
Bundy admitted his lack of game-time at Stirling County left him struggling mentally before the move south of the Border.
“I wasn’t in a great head space heading down there, to be honest.
“It was really hard to get in the Stirling County Super6 squad with Andrew Davidson, Adam Ashe, Matt Smith, and those guys.
“I’d been at Stirling all my life and for the first time ever, I wasn’t enjoying it, so it was time to go and when I got to Darlington, it was nice to just get out and play rugby.
“I needed to just go out and play rugby.”
The 21-year-old also believes he fell foul of a bad pre-season performance against Newcastle Falcons costing him a spot in the plans of Stirling County boss Ben Cairns.
“My shoulder was not good at that point,” Bundy told SCRUM.
“That performance was used as a reason why I wasn’t in the team all through the season and I didn’t get a chance to show in games that I deserved to be in the team.
“I only had training, and you can impress with skills, but you’re not able to show off too much physically, so that was probably the hardest point.”
Now, though, he’s looking forward to a move to France.
“It will be interesting to see what it’s like,” he said.
“I’ve watched a fair bit of it – the rugby last year was pretty slow and physical, they all just seem to want to beat each other up, but hopefully with the new league [Federale 1 has become PRO D3], it will be a bit different and teams will try to play a bit more rugby.
“If not, I’m up for the physical challenge.”
Of course, Bundy has some apprehension about the language barrier, but French lessons are on the agenda once he’s in Narbonne, and he’s looking forward to a new experience after a difficult 12 months.
Image caption: Ross Bundy in action for Stirling County. Image credit: Bryan Robertson