Rugby Players’ Association launches #LIFTTHEWEIGHT campaign

As part of its commitment to player welfare, The Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) has today officially launched #LiftTheWeight.

Lift the Weight is a new campaign that aims to help remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues and offer the necessary tools and support to enable RPA members to enjoy a healthy and fulfilling life, both on the field and off it.

One in four people in the UK will be affected by mental illness in any year, with the most common issues being depression and anxiety.



Often the pressures and strains that can act as a catalyst to mental health issues are magnified for professional sports people. Despite a number of high-profile elite athletes speaking out about their own struggles with mental health, the stigma around these issues remains.

Following a previous RPA campaign involving Duncan Bell, there was more than a 130% increase in the number of players contacting our confidential counselling service. In 2016, more players contacted the service than ever before.

“This is a very important campaign from the RPA and we will do all we can to support them,” said Phil Winstanley the rugby director at Premiership Rugby. “We quite rightly spend a lot of time focusing on a player’s physical condition, and hopefully this campaign will make everyone realise that a


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We quite rightly spend a lot of time focusing on a player’s physical condition, and hopefully this campaign will make everyone realise that a players mental state is just, if not more important.

“Physical issues are easily identifiable and can be more easily treated. Mental issues are much less identifiable and we need to remove the stigma around this issue and talk more openly about it to encourage players to share any challenges that they have.”

As part of the campaign, James Haskell (Wasps & England), Nolli Waterman (England Women), Kane Palma-Newport (Bath), Netani Talei (Harlequins), Jono Kitto (Leicester Tigers), Ollie Phillips (former England 7s), Matt Hankin (Saracens) and former England internationals Jonny Wilkinson and Duncan Bell have shared their own personal experiences of mental health in a series of candid interviews.



These will be available to view at the new #LiftTheWeight hub, alongside other resources, links and advice relating to a range of mental health issues. The hub will be accessible to both professional players and the general public.

The campaign is also comprised of an in-club resilience training programme and the RPA’s 24/7 confidential counselling service, provided by Cognacity.

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