Queensland Premier Rugby introduces Mental Health Round

· Hospital Cup
by Reds Media Unit

Round 8 of the Allsports Physiotherapy Hospital Challenge Cup will mark the first ever Queensland Premier Rugby Mental Health Round.  

All nine clubs will be involved, with the match of the round between Easts and Sunnybank seeing the two clubs contest the Rick Tyrrell Cup.  
Rick Tyrrell was a former Queensland Reds representative, who also played club Rugby with both Easts and Sunnybank. Rick unfortunately lost his battle with mental illness in 2015.  
Rick’s friends – Damon Rielly, Darren Gaffney, Michael Chettle and Alex Corones - came together to form the Rugby Unite charity in 2015 after Rick’s unfortunate passing and introduced the memorial trophy between the two Rugby clubs.  
“As mates we did not have the mental health literacy to recognise his mental health challenges or how to support Rick in accessing available help,” said Damon Rielly.  
“Rick’s death spurred us into action to do whatever we could, to raise awareness of the importance of taking a proactive approach to mental health and suicide prevention strategies”. 
As well as introducing the Rick Tyrrell Cup, Rugby Unite also set out to create opportunities for the broader Rugby community to take part in mental health first aid training, and after partnering with Queensland Rugby Union (QRU), the initiative has led to the establishment of the In Touch mental health program.  
Funded by the Queensland Government and the Queensland Mental Health Commission, and supported by Rugby Unite, In Touch aims to provide players, coaches, administrators, volunteers, parents and referees with the opportunity to gain more in-depth knowledge and a formal mental health first aid accreditation.   
QRU are encouraging as many members of the Rugby community, in particular those who interact regularly with other members to be trained. The cost is covered by the QRU mental health program. 
QRU General Manager of Community Rugby Gaven Head said: “2020 has been a difficult year and it’s more important than ever that we provide the Rugby community with the tools and resources to support our own.  
“Thanks to Rugby Unite’s initial efforts, we’ve worked to establish a program that now forms a crucial part of QRU’s ongoing strategy, led by our Mental Health Project Manager Suzanna Russell.”  
Throughout 2020, Russell and the Community Rugby staff at QRU have worked to engage with Rugby clubs across Queensland, facilitating mental health information sessions and mental health first aid training via Zoom. Each club is also to be provided with an individualised mental health action plan, using evidence-based information and protocols to encourage positive mental health in their Rugby communities. 

University of Queensland are one of the many Rugby clubs around the state to have members actively engage with program.  
“Being attached to a University, we have a lot of young men and women that are coming out of school and are now having to deal with juggling university, work, Rugby and other life commitments,” said UQ Rugby Coordinator Stuart Hubbert.  
“With people at the club having mental health first-aid training, we’re able to pick up on things a little bit earlier, have that conversation and point them in the right direction.  
“What I took most from the training is that we’re always so concerned with our players physical well being and what they’re doing on the field. It really changed my perspective and made me think about the fact that sometimes these players can be dealing with things that maybe we can’t see and that we need to be aware of so that they can perform off the field as well.”  
Digital and physical resources pertaining to the In Touch mental health program will be distributed to the Premier Rugby clubs this week, to be displayed within each club house as well as shared across social media.  
For more information on the In Touch mental health program, visit https://qld.rugby/in-touch.