On World Mental Health Day the IRFU’s Spirit of Rugby programme is pleased to announce an update to its policy in relation to mental wellbeing for the club and community game. In early 2022 a working group was formed to review existing resources and ensure a clear direction and alignment for the clubs and volunteers in the game.
The project aimed to ensure that clubs can provide a welcoming environment for everyone involved in the game – be that players, coaches, or volunteers. After consulting with experts from the game and mental health professionals, the IRFU have created a number of resources to empower clubs to provide a positive environment to its members.
This will ensure clubs have members’ welfare as their primary concern and that coaches and volunteers provide activities that contribute positively to mental health. It is also important that, where necessary, clubs can recognise and respond to behaviours and events that have a negative impact on mental health. The information provided to clubs can be distributed to members or delivered as training.
Over the coming weeks the IRFU will provide a ‘Toolkit for Clubs’ so that members can recognise the benefits of physical and mental wellbeing and understand the impact of rugby related issues such as injury or pressure to play, unrealistic expectations of coaches or parents and the impact of referee abuse can have on their members.
Clubs will be supplied with factsheets and posters and a module of e-learning will be available to volunteers so that they can implement knowledge around mental wellbeing into their rugby activities.
Further information will be provided to clubs directly and resources will be available through the Health & Wellbeing section of our website here.
These resources will be in addition to the partnership with Jigsaw, making the ‘One Good Coach’ module available to all youth coaches and the IRFU ‘Walking Guide’ made available to clubs, to highlight how exercise is of benefit to our mental as well as physical health.
The IRFU’s Head of Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity, Anne Marie Hughes, said “taking a member centred approach to rugby, on and off the pitch, is central to the promotion of respect and inclusivity, two important values of our game, in focusing on welfare, members feel welcomed and included and the production of these resources will ensure our clubs can provide this welcoming environment to all.”