Dan Baugh admits Cardiff still holds a special place in his heart and owes all of his experiences and opportunities in the game to his seven year stint at the Arms Park.
The bruising back-row forward earned legendary status playing for Cardiff RFC and then Cardiff Blues following the inception of regional rugby.
He also took his first steps into coaching with the Blues, before establishing himself as one of the game’s leading strength and conditioning coaches.
And Baugh, who will return to Wales with a strength and conditioning role at the Dragons, still refers to Cardiff Blues as his team.
Speaking on the latest episode of the Cardiff Blues Podcast he recalled his upbringing in Canada, his time at the Arms Park and journey after hanging up his boots.
In 1998, the door initially opened for Baugh at Cardiff in tragic circumstances but he says his introduction to rugby in Wales was an eye opener.
“We’d played against Wales the year before with Canada, and Jonathan Humphreys and John Tait were good friends.
“I was in Buenos Aires for a Rugby World Cup qualifier with Canada, and on the day of the game was the game between Cardiff and Swansea, with Garin’s father and Gwyn’s neck injury. It was a game that has gone done in infamy in Cardiff.
“I knew Alec Evans having met him the year before, and had also met Humph the year before, and they called me at the hotel to explain what had happened and that they would need some kind of replacement.
“They knew I’d come for cheap, they knew I would be available and was willing to travel and was up for an adventure. I took the opportunity.
“I was excited for an opportunity and was willing to leave everything behind to get my foot in.
“I came over on a trial, playing in a couple of exhibition games under the alias ‘Dan Brown’ because I wasn’t insured or registered.
“I remember playing Bath on a Wednesday night and the first person I hit was Mike Tindall and I hit him harder than I’ve hit anyone in my life. I thought ‘this is brilliant’ but he bounced back up and I realised that I was with a bunch of ballers that can take a hit.
“You know in yourself if you’ve capped someone, but he didn’t even flinch. He was up before me I think, and it was a bit of a learning curve.
“But I loved every second of it, from minute one.”
Baugh would go on to leave a plethora of memories for Cardiff fans, whether his stand-out performances against the likes of Saracens and Llanelli or his legendary tackle against Swansea.
“The longer you’re out of the game the harder you get, the bigger those hits were,” he continued.
“It’s lovely that people still remember those things, but it was more of a case that I hit somebody and we both ended up on the bleachers.
“But the way it’s been told since is that picked him up and threw him into the second stand!
“A lot of the things I did weren’t conscious. I was just running around trying to hit the guy with the ball.
“Unfortunately for the ones playing with me, when I was lucky enough to have the ball I didn’t have the skill-set or vision to pass it, but I would also be so chuffed to have it, the chance were that I was going to run with it.
“I was a pretty strong runner and always been quite fast, and my physical skill-set allowed me to do it.”
Having put his body to hell and back, Baugh would eventually hang up his boots in 2005, and he revealed the toll that the years of physical commitment had on his body.
“I had a lot of injuries over the years, with a lot of jokes being made about me being sponsored by Elastoplast.
“Looking back now, retrospectively, but during the years of wrestling, judo and arm locks and knee locks, and just generally banging on my knees.
“So when I moved from that type of sport to a multi-directional, running sport on grass, my knees were probably already pretty damaged.
“I came into rugby after already having an ACL reconstruction, which people take for granted now but I had to go to three different surgeons and everyone at the time told me I’d never play rugby again.
“When I came over, Derwyn Jones - and it had to be him, he’s a legend - he fell from eight feet up into the back of my legs in a ruck and blew the other ACL.
“They do a test to check for the end point of a knee, and they realised I didn’t have an end point on the right knee either!
“I went in for a double ACL surgery to get them fixed.
“There were a lot of knee injuries, a lot of bangs and a lot of blasts over the years, but it wasn’t my knees which finished me.
“I had a stress fracture in my foot, which I think happened after training on training on multiple surfaces.
“My body refused the bone grafts and I had to hang them up.”
That was only a taste of the conversation with Dan Baugh. Make sure you catch up with the full episode and the rest of the series which is available on all major platforms.