Mental health and rugby

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Mental health and rugby Empty Mental health and rugby

Post by carpet baboon on Tue 20 Aug 2019, 4:11 pm

https://amp.theguardian.com/sport/2019/aug/19/kearnan-myall-england-players-mental-health-training-camp?CMP=share_btn_tw&__twitter_impression=true

A very interesting read.

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Post by LondonTiger on Wed 21 Aug 2019, 8:09 am

Wasps have put out a statement:


Player welfare and mental health is something we at Wasps take very seriously.

We are shocked and saddened to learn of former lock Kearnan Myall’s recent revelations about his struggles with mental health during his time in rugby.

Suicide, depression, alcoholism and drug abuse are not avenues which anyone should have to go down, and, in whatever way possible, we as rugby clubs must support individuals to ensure no players or staff are faced with these perilous situations.

Kearnan, who spent six years at Wasps, is an intelligent, extremely highly-respected and highly-regarded individual and it is important that his story prevents others from experiencing similar problems.

It is imperative, that rugby players at all levels worldwide, are supported not just physically, but mentally.

Kearnan, who is now studying a PhD in Psychiatry at Oxford University, is researching mindfulness and mental health issues among athletes and as part of this, he will be conducting some of his research working with the Wasps Academy to help the next generation.

Hopefully, Kearnan’s work will assist players in coping with the stresses of the industry and prevent others from going through the same issues as he did during some of his career.

We wish Kearnan the very best in his studies and fully support him in trying to make a difference, not just across the world of rugby, but across all sports.

With the support of the Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) and also club doctors and GPs, we would always encourage players or staff to utilise the support which is on offer on a regular basis, and will continue to remind them who they should contact if or when they feel that they require the support.


It is to be hoped that all clubs and the Unions agree with these sentiments. 

We as fans have a part to play. When our teams are not performing well we far too often start to attack the players, their effort etc. You often here things like: "I would play for free", "They are so lucky to make a living out of this". At my own club last season things really came to a head on social media with some horrific comments being posted to players twitter and social media accounts. We see this regularly reported in football where the racial slurs are reported and clamped down upon (where possible and 100% correctly) but other digs just flow through. Players are told not to read social media, papers etc - but why is the onus placed on the player to avoid the crap that is said. Why not tell fans who post this that they are a disgrace?

I follow two sports ahead of others, rugby and cricket. Over the last decade or so the mental struggles of cricketers has come to the fore. Now it is a weird sport in that while a team sport it is also very much about individual action. Kind of like being in a team yet being all alone. This is exacerbated by the long periods spent away from home. Both of these seem to have affected Myall (and Marler) and I am sure plenty of other players. The ethos in rugby of "manning up" and "showing no weakness" does not help. Players are scared to appear vulnerable and too often mocked for it.

I really hope Myall is able to take his experiences, apply it to his studies and make a difference.

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Post by king_carlos on Wed 21 Aug 2019, 6:11 pm

Incredibly candid interview from Myall. Particularly opening up about testing positive in a drug test following cocaine use. I didn't realise that first time offenders are fined, kept anonymous and sent for psychiatric help under the RFU policy.

Given the rife cocaine use amongst young professionals it would be interesting to see figures on how many rugby players have copped that £5k fine and been referred to a psychiatrist.

By and large pro rugby players are young, good looking and affluent enough to have excess cash to spend. It wouldn't surprise me if a lot more young players than the sport would like to admit end up taking recreational drugs.

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Wed 21 Aug 2019, 6:20 pm

Carlos I wouldn't be surprised either. Drugs in sport is generally brushed under the carpet but a friend of mine was openly approached by a then professional footballer asking to purchase cocaine. It was a public nightclub. I doubt it's an isolated incident. Young men with excess cash as you say, they want to enjoy themselves and let's face it rugby has a reputation for playing hard on and off the pitch. The chances for big nights out are probably also limited by the strict in season regime so when the players go big the go very big.

Other sports have embraced experts to help with the weight of expectation, anxiety and depression. Ronnie O'Sullivan has famously turned to Steve Peters and most world cup squads have accompanying help. I'm surprised clubs don't have someone on retainer that the players can turn to in complete confidentiality.

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Post by king_carlos on Wed 21 Aug 2019, 6:42 pm

Stories such as these are always to be taken with a pinch of salt but having worked in hospitality in Edinburgh for many years I've witnessed many rugby players barred from certain premises after being caught engaging in extra curricular activities the night after a Murrayfield game. Both home and away players I would hastily add there!

All teams both club and international tend to frequent the same places when they go out in different cities. In Edinburgh especially there are a couple of clubs and bars that stars from the AI sides both home and away end up in after matches. I know of several players who have been put in taxis back to the team hotel and advised not to return after being caught out.

It's very much a problem within young professionals as a whole and not a sport, or rugby, specific issue. The more excess cash that young professionals have the more accessible recreational drugs are though and whilst rugby players might not be rich by sporting stars standards they are wealthy compared to peers in their mid twenties.

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Post by RugbyFan100 on Fri 23 Aug 2019, 10:41 am

A friend of mine is just about to complete his PhD in sports mental health. I believe he'll be the first post doc working exclusively in rugby union mental health.

He'll be teaming up with the WRU and the welsh regions and will look to lead the way in this massive area that has somehow been neglected thus far.

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Post by RDW on Fri 23 Aug 2019, 11:35 am

I quite like that Wasps response - not shying away from it or trying to defend their part in it.

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