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Friday Apr 28, 2017

Powerful report on mental and emotional health in rugby

Powerful report on mental and emotional health in rugby

Just two months the rugby world came to a standstill with the shock news that former Wallaby Dan Vickerman had died, aged just 37. Varous reports and speculation followed, and what is now clear is that despite appearances, Vickerman was suffering on the inside.

Unfortunately mental health issues, such as severe anxiety and depression, continue to have a profound effect on many individuals around the world. This applies to all walks of life, including the sports world. Thankfully, word is getting out concerning prevention and awareness.

Athletes are now being encouraged to reach out with any mental or emotional needs they may be struggling with. It’s certainly a step in the right direction.

As can be seen in this emotional video, there are now strong advocates not only for athletes’ physical well being, but for their emotional health as well.

Studies have shown that suicide has become the leading cause of preventable death in Australia and that those deaths are on the rise. Not even professional athletes are immune from mental and emotional illness.

And it’s not just rugby. Other professional contact sports, such as the NFL, have been trying to address mental health with the study of concussions and their immediate and long-term impact on affected athletes.

It’s a very powerful video report on a topic that is perhaps still considered a taboo subject. Thankfully, this is an issue that is no longer being kept in the dark.


  • larry
    10:09 PM 30/05/2017

    Interesting comments above. I agree with Scott. The big tackles, and there are plenty of them, need not be glorified. What used to be glorified were the long runs, the tries scored, the kicks made. It was in that song that had that one lyric about forwards doing all the work and backs getting all the glory. I played both American football and rugby, and stopping a player cold is a necessity in American football, but rarely is in rugby, unless right near the goal line. No one is running for a 'first down' in rugby. Not glorifying big hits would not lead to the game being watered down any, but it would, I believe re-emphasize the offensive components of the game instead of the defensive. Multi-phase play leads to more body and head-to-head clashes, which means more concussions. Tackles in the open field are rarely going to lead to injury, head or other body part. Perhaps a number limit needs to be put on phase play inside 22 meters.

  • couscous
    6:07 PM 01/05/2017

    According to national statistics one in four people will or do suffer from mental health issues during their life time. Mental health does not target particular individuals, life styles or sports. However there may be certain mitigating contributing factors such as drug taking or heavy alcohol intake with individuals. Having worked within the NHS in the recent past I became aware of an increase in Dementia in more younger people, ie in their late 30s and early 40s believed to be caused by drug abuse. I believe that being involved in Rugby at any level and in any role we should be made aware of common signs of mental health issues in much the same way that world rugby has initiated the concussion awareness programme. The problem then becomes what we do about it.

  • drg
    8:49 AM 30/04/2017

    Well this tugs on the heart strings! I have to say I somewhat disagree a little Scott... I don't think the game should be watered down regarding big 'hits' (you mention knocks, which for me seems to come in the form of injuries which I don't glorify). Rightly or wrongly, it's always been the case of "if a guy runs at you, you knock him back so he doesn't run down your channel again"... that has to be glorified, especially when it's a David v Goliath incident. I'm also not so sure that the culture has to change, more so, it has to be known that "it's ok" to talk, to talk about your worries and fears and all amongst what should be your mates... I'd say that needs to filter down to the grass roots where we're still all a bit rougher round the edges. Talking is something people need to be able to do and need to know that they are able to do it - but listening is also a massive aspect - some guy not looking as good as normal, wait until he's on his own, ask him if he's alright, it'd probably be easier at grass roots because the drinks all come out. We've seen Gareth Thomas, Nigel Owens - two rugby stars in their own right who have come out as gay and mentioned mental health issues. I mean this positively, their issues are things people don't care about.. no decent person is going to judge them based on their sexuality when you can see what they have achieved, it sounds ridiculous, but they show what can be achieved by anyone regardless of sexuality and that is what filters down to people so that they learn not to judge others. Vickerman on the other hand looked like he had everything going for him, except maybe he was missing the camaraderie and support of his other players. But people have said in this video - tough exterior, soft interior... he's a big guy who achieved so much, he shouldn't have been ashamed or worried to talk. It's a tragedy. Then again, it's all so clear as I sit and type this hear, but everything is blurred when you're lost in your mind.

  • 4:13 PM 29/04/2017

    just back from reading this... and then this ends in 'smash 'em bro.' What was i saying about glorifying the big hits?? sad.

  • 4:03 PM 29/04/2017

    open up guys. but like i keep saying, maybe the culture of the sport should change and stop looking for the big knocks and glorifying them. you're killing each other...

  • hoot
    9:39 PM 28/04/2017



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