Super Rugby


Rugby Community Unites to Tackle Mental Health

This weekend will see Easts host Sunnybank at David Wilson Field in the fourth annual Rick Tyrrell Cup memorial match as Round 5 of the 2018 Hospital Challenge Cup kicks off.

Having played colts at Sunnybank and senior grades at Easts, winning premierships during his time at both clubs, before going on to represent Queensland during the 2001 season, Rick was a well-respected member of the Queensland Rugby community.

In January 2015, Rick lost his battle with depression, cementing in his friend's minds the need for an increased focus on mental health in the physically demanding sport.

To commemorate his life and his contribution to the game, Rick’s friends in partnership with both Easts and Sunnybank conceived what has become an annual tribute match, with the two clubs competing for the Rick Tyrrell Cup whenever they meet at Tigerland. 

Easts won the first match back in 2015, while the Dragons have won the cup on the last two occasions.

The match acts as an annual opportunity to celebrate Rick and highlight the importance of mental health within Rugby, but his lasting legacy is through the charity his mates have established, Rugby Unite, which aims to provide mental health first aid training throughout grassroots Rugby.

“Over the last four years Rick’s friends have rallied together to put mental health in Brisbane Rugby on the agenda, and have funded over 40 members of the Brisbane Rugby community through their mental health first aid training,” said Michael Chettle, one of Rick’s close friends and a founder of Rugby Unite.

“We want the Rugby community to unite for the cause of battling mental health so let’s - Rugby Unite - in Mental Health Awareness.

We want coaches, players, and administrators to have the ability to identify signs of mental health issues. We treat our physical injuries, it’s time we treat our mental health.”

Queensland Women’s XV captain and Sunnybank player Kirby Sefo is one member of the Rugby community who has completed the course.

“The main part as a player taking part was how to recognise signs for people from all walks of life who might be struggling and then the first steps to helping someone out,” Sefo said.

“How we have implemented that within Sunnybank is to just take greater care of those around you and just be more aware.

“One of the reasons I took part in this training is that I had been approached privately by people who were struggling already so this gave me more knowledge on how to deal with them case-by-case and best assist.

“The reason I was approached by people within the club is because I’ve struggled with the issue personally so it’s nice to now be able to have some tools to assist others.”

This weekend will see something very different take place to support the Rugby Unite cause, with both premier grade teams at Easts and Sunnybank having agreed to wear the opposition’s socks.

“Both clubs have supported the need for us all to unite under one cause we can all unfortunately relate too,” said Chettle.

“With this being the inaugural match where the teams will swap socks, we will be hoping that all clubs in 2019 and beyond, for one round, will wear the opposition’s socks to show everyone that we are all in this together. It doesn’t matter if you are a Tiger, Dragon, Red Heavy, Galloper, Bulldog, Magpie, Brethren, Eagle or Bond we all Rugby Unite.”

The team from Rugby Unite will be at Suncorp Stadium this Saturday afternoon selling tickets in the 50/50 Raffle, with all money raised going back into funding mental health first aid courses within the Rugby community.

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