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Ivybridge Community College

Ivybridge Community College

Ivybridge Community College

Wellbeing Ambassadors discuss Mental Health issues within the Rugby Community

In  November, Ivybridge Community College Wellbeing Ambassadors from Years 10 and 11 met Aron Struminski from the Exeter Chiefs Community Department.

They discussed Mental Health issues within the rugby community and Aron said there are always pressures to win but also acknowledged that failure is a way of learning.   As well as the stigma that surrounds rugby players claiming that they should not show ‘mental weaknesses’, it is also important to avoid the ‘boys don’t cry’ mentality, and to be open about mental health without the fear of weakness.

Aron also referred to rugby players, likening them to a Formula One car, in that everything is constantly being monitored, for example, heart rate, mental health state and sleep.  This is an important point to note, as many people consider sports players to be simply reliant on their physical health, when in reality everyone’s mental health must be closely monitored and nurtured in order to keep them safe and well.

Additionally, elements of sport can damage morale.  For example, sometimes over 40 players will apply for 23 places and it can be crushing to not be selected; as every player works exceedingly hard to achieve their (usually life-long) dream.

They also discussed ‘Movember’, and he remarked that many rugby players grow a moustache in support, but don’t necessarily understand the meaning behind it, and he thought we should tackle that.  Aron said, “It is the media’s responsibility to promote mental health, and that if the mainstream media was more positive and open about mental health, instead of trying to make stories as dramatic and tragic as possible to sell more copies, then the message of Movember could be better publicised, so that people do not shy away from showing their support due to lack of understanding.”

Finally, we discussed the LGBTQ+ community within rugby; Aron described the story of Nigel Owens, the referee, coming out to his peers.   After further research we found that Nigel had said “It's such a big taboo to be gay in my line of work, I had to think very hard about it because I didn't want to jeopardise my career.  Coming out was very difficult and I tried to live with who I really was for years.”       

Aron said he believes at Exeter Chiefs that there would be no homophobia towards a rugby player coming out as gay.

Article written by the Year 10 Wellbeing Ambassadors