The Sarlat Rugby Team has big ambitions, and will require a strong team of talented players to see them through. In addition to a solid core of talent (both local and international) staying on from the previous season, the Team is bringing in new players to prepare for the crucial season to come.
Introducing the newest addition to the roster: Filip Perica
The latest to join is Filip Perica, a powerful center with the explosive speed to succeed on the wings. The Croatian national team player is only 23 years old, but has had an impressive and sometimes surprising career. With an even more promising career ahead, he is more than ready to prove it with the Sarlat Rugby Team.
We sat down with him earlier this week to discover more of his story and paint this player profile. Something we plan to do for each new recruit to help the community get to know the players.
Filip Perica’s career has always been on both sides of the channel
Most recently a player with Plymouth Albion RFC, Filip got there by rising through the ranks of British rugby clubs. Sadly, like too many players, his time in the top British league was cut short by Covid-19. With the 2020 season unfinished, he returned to his home turf in Croatia, back where it all began.
At the young age of 8, Filip followed his brother into the world of Rugby, a sport almost unheard of in Croatia where football (soccer) reigns supreme. But he fell in love with the fierce physical side of rugby, and shined both in tactics and skill on the playing field. He was soon competing nationally, then eventually internationally for Croatia. He describes the moment he first stepped out onto the pitch wearing his country’s colors as one he will never forget.
But it is also one he found echoed by the love and pride that Sarlat Rugby players expressed for the colors they wear onto the pitch. And was delighted to be welcomed into the easy camaraderie of the team
From Croatia to England, a story of (mis)fortune
After playing internationally for Croatia for two seasons of rugby union under 18s in 2014 and 2015, Filip fell foul of an injury during the finals of Rugby 7s. With a broken ankle, Filip saw his dreams dashed before him. Croatian university admissions depended on a physical exam he couldn’t take, and his career on and off the pitch depended on it.
But as he describes it, he was “young and crazy” and went out on a limb. After sparking their interest with a Youtube video of his career, and training so hard he broke the screw in his ankle, Filip booked a 1 way ticket to the UK, to visit Maidstone RFC. But they took him on, and his career exploded. What could have been the worst rugby memory of his life became one of the best.
Following clubs and schools, Filip forced his way up the English rugby leagues. He played for the Taunton Titans, Teignmouth, Newton Abbot and Plymouth Albion before reaching Northumbria University. And, while his season there was cut short, he continues to pursue his Masters in Science of Strength and Conditioning. Clearly he is not the kind of player who gives up easily, and that is exactly who Sarlat Rugby wants on the team.
A warm welcome for Filip Perica to the Sarlat Rugby Team and project
While Filip hasn’t been in France long enough to get a good impression of the French Rugby scene compared to the English one, his initial experiences have been overwhelmingly positive. Starting with the weather!
But most of all, he emphasized how warm the welcome has been to the team and the project. Despite the language barrier (he is working hard to get up to speed in French) the team has been friendly and helpful. Though he does have the advantage of working with several teammates off the pitch as he has joined the UNIQORN team working to accelerate the Sarlat Rugby Team. Here, he contributes to the team’s success and builds useful work experience as an International Sponsorship Coordinator.
“Working with players like Dato, Achilles and Nicolas helped quickly build an easy sense of camaraderie between me and the team.” He added that it was refreshing to see a rugby club with clear long term goals and plans, an attitude he has often found missing in many clubs. Most of all, his enthusiasm for the project was fueled by seeing that it was being built as much by the players themselves as anyone else: “everyone is contributing”.
He has also leapt at the chance to join the team in some of its community focused programs. Participating earlier this month in the Easter egg hunt with Benji and the kids of the Rugby School. After getting into rugby at a young age ‘despite everything’ in Croatia, he knows the power and importance of connecting with the next generation.
Filip Perica: a powerful player on a strong trajectory.
In addition to his work with and for the team, Filip is wrapping up his Masters, and has an eye on both his sporting career and future work. On the sporting side, he wants to play in the pro leagues, and is determined to make that happen with Sarlat Rugby within the next few years. But given the scare of his earlier brush with injury back in Croatia, he knows all too well that a rugby career can end suddenly and unexpectedly.
He is still young, the perfect age for a blossoming pro career, but not so crazy anymore. Instead he struck me as a thoughtful and insightful communicator. Assets that will serve him well as a sponsorship coordinator for Sarlat Rugby. An experience that will also position him well in any future career, whether in skills and strength training, or online, or perhaps both?
In what little free time he has left between work, school and of course rugby, Filip has been enjoying runs in Sarlat and it’s beautiful countryside and games of league of legends. In his words, when he is not dominating on the pitch, he is dominating in the Summoner’s Rift! Who knows, maybe fans will have a chance to take him on soon in another esports tournament on Sarlat Rugby sponsors FORMATION.GG.