Rugby Players Ireland in partnership with Zurich Insurance have revealed details of a survey into the stresses and strains in the lives of professional rugby players, one which belies the notion that life as a professional sports star is all about glory and reward.
Recent studies carried out on professional rugby players in Ireland as part of an international project led by Dr Vincent Gouttebarge of FIFPro indicate that as many as 41.7 per cent have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression.
Additional research from an online survey carried out by Rugby Players Ireland under its old name of IRUPA at the end of 2016 also highlights the prevalent factors that prompt such anxieties.
Only 3% of those surveyed by Rugby Players Ireland last year stated that they never worry about their playing performance, with 93 per cent admitting to worrying about team selection.
Meanwhile, the uncertainty of what lies beyond a career in rugby is also cause for worry, as indicated by 70% of those surveyed. Just 11 per cent stated that they never worry about issues outside of the game.
In light of these findings, Rugby Players Ireland has worked on making sure that appropriate mental health services are available to players.
With the help of main sponsor Zurich, they can now access a number of resources including one-on-one counselling sessions with a qualified counsellor, and access to an online programme designed to give a greater understanding of the links between mind, body and emotions.
This online facility also helps to develop techniques and strategies that can minimise the onset of stress.
“When you’re playing professional rugby, the stakes are always high,” said Leinster and Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong.
“Almost without realising it, players are putting themselves under huge pressure and not dealing with it properly.”
“Over time some of these things can build up. Thanks to Rugby Players Ireland and Zurich, we are being educated in how to look after ourselves properly before things escalate into something more serious.”
“Everybody is excited for the new season ahead, but there can also be a bit of tension. A lot can change over the summer. The younger lads will have developed, new guys are brought in. In some ways, you have to prove yourself all over again and show the coaches that you’re worth your place.”
“You hope there’ll be plenty of good days ahead, but there will be times when you’re not selected, you pick up an injury or you just have a bad game. Nobody knows how the season will go.”
“Players find themselves on a stage every week and have their playing performance publicly scrutinised,” added New Rugby Players Ireland CEO Simon Keogh. This in itself can
“This in itself can place a huge amount of pressure on an individual. We have worked with Zurich to put the best resources in place for our members should they need them.”
Rugby Players Ireland and the Gaelic Players Association are among the more than 220 organisations that play an active part of the Sport for Business community.