Maxx recall

Had he had some off lead time somewhere else on the walk? If so don’t worry about the rugby field - just keep him on the lead. Don’t beat yourselves up about it, he will just have to accept he doesn’t get any freedom there - at least not for the time being. More important that you both don’t have your confidence eroded and make your walk stressful.
Thanks Alison, yes he had off-lead from one end of the field to the other (about 15 mins) where we let him bimble along at his own pace sniffing madly. Then we had our structured walk around the gardens on-lead and then back across the rugby field towards where the car is parked. We always let him off here if it is empty (which is mainly is). It was just like he saw something or heard something and took off

It's the only place we CAN let him off lead safely (i.e. without other people/dogs around) - even though technically we aren't allowed due to the non-dog-friendly council rules. We also keep a careful eye on anyone entering the field to see if they have a dog as he has been known to run up to other dogs. The only place we are legally allowed him off-lead is one of the two dog parks and we avoid those as there always seems to be dogs and owners that we prefer to avoid

I wish we didn't live in a big city :( - but one day we will move to a more rural area.
Maybe he realised you were going back to the car?
Yes he would as we do this route most days. If the park is wet or if there are too many people we drive past and do our structured walk straight up. He knows that as soon as we get home he gets his breakfast so I wouldn't think he is too worried about the walk ending. But who knows what is going on in his furry head?
I don't really have any great advice except to say that it's a constant work in progress so don't let the off days ruin how far you've come. I would continue letting him off in that field, but not close to where he escapes and not letting him off to his own devices - that could be where he gets some ball throws, where you practice some outdoor sit/stays or touches, something engaging so that he doesn't have time to think about taking off. Quinn will be 5 at the end of this year, so this is the 4th summer that I've dreaded water/balls/beach - this is the first year that she hasn't been taking off to get someone else to throw her ball, or just running rampage in general. It feels like a miracle, but it's not's been 4 years of careful selection of when she can go off leash, the perfect timing on recall and practice, practice, practice. I feel like I know her better as the years pass, so I can really predict what she will do before she does it. You will get there!