London Welsh hooker Neil Briggs says a year of playing in France has made him a better player.
He told BBC London 94.9: "It was a bit of a shock going into that environment. The rugby was tough and physical, especially in the scrum.
"It was one of the reasons I wanted to go - just to experience it, to help me out and mature me as a player."
He added: "There are things I think I can add to the team and I'm ready to get back into the mix.
"I'm really enjoying my rugby here.
"It really helps when you have people like [head coach] Lyn Jones and [technical advisor] Kingsley Jones who are very knowledgeable and make it fun to come into work."
The England Saxons player says that spending time in France helped him to mature as a person.
"It was a great place," Briggs continued. "Bourgoin is a unique, special place in France and I had an amazing time.
"It's very rugby-orientated, with everything that goes on.
"You walk into the shops and there are flags upon the wall that say 'CSBJ'.
"People greet you straight away and even the after-match functions are different, with the food, the people and supporters.
"I can't speak more highly of it over there - the culture, the lifestyle and the weather.
"It was a great experience and I'd recommend it to anybody to go out there and have a taste.
"For people to go out and experience it for a year, in terms of a life development, it was great for me.
"I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to go over there and experience it.
"Unfortunately it came to an end due to financial difficulties but now I'm back here, feeling refreshed and feeling that I've come away having learned a lot."