The WRPA’s charity Second Half Rugby exists to support players in real times of hardship. Professional rugby players are only ever one injury away from losing their job. Most of us won’t have to worry about that in our own professional careers, but it worries players every time they set foot in their office, the playing field.
Players have to endure the mental stresses of having their performance scrutinised daily, not just by their employers but by an entire fan base. They have to deal with being side-lined if they don’t perform, and risk losing their spot if they suffer injury. Personal issues and well-being can often be ignored as players can be reluctant to report their issues to coaches to avoid the risk of looking weak and jeopardising their spot. Most players will suffer injuries and concussions which can plague them later in life. We are now seeing the very sad situation of players suffering from side effects of brain injuries, including early onset dementia. To top it all off, the average career of a rugby player can be as short as 3-5 years and the worries about transitioning out of the game and supporting families is a significant burden. It is a tough and gruelling career, tougher than most would realise.
So how does Second Half help?
Second Half provides funding for players in real times of hardship. This funding can help players who are suffering from serious physical and mental health issues. The most recent example of support was given to Jack Cosgrove who in late 2019 aged 25 at the time, sustained a career-ending injury in a routine training exercise which forced him to retire from professional rugby with immediate effect. The Coventry born forward began a very successful season with the Dragons in 2019, after periods with teams such as Worcester Warriors and Edinburgh, as well as call ups for the Scotland U20 squad. However, one freak accident on the training ground changed everything. He faced the frightening reality that he would never be able to play his sport again and would have to come to terms with the loss of sight in one eye. Jack will have a lifetime of medical care to adapt to, as a result of putting his body on the line.
Jack, who is now a trustee of Second Half had the following to say;
“Second Half and the WRPA helped me when I was in a time of need. It is easy to take for granted the work they do behind the scenes to protect and help players, until that day comes when you need the help yourself. Life can change in an instant, and I feel honoured that I can use my experience to help others prepare and come to terms with life after the game. There are some truly incredible people working in the WPRA & Second Half”
Second Half has also launched the first of its kind “Physical Transition Programmes” pilot which is designed to support players with chronic injuries as they transition out of the game. It is designed to make day to day life easier by resolving pain or longstanding injuries sustained throughout a rugby career. The programme headed up by former Osprey’s physiotherapist Ant Carter provides hands-on advice and guidance on managing physical wellbeing. Ant works with the players to develop pain & activity management plans bespoke to players. The programme is funded by the charity and is designed to give back to those who have given so much on the pitch for our entertainment.
On the programme Ant Carter said:
“I am delighted to be able to work with the WRPA and it’s Second Half Rugby charity. Professional rugby has a physical cost on players’ bodies. A cost that continues once their careers have ended. I am excited and committed to this programme to support the long term welfare of Welsh rugby players.”
On the programme Second Half trustee and former Osprey and Wales International James King said:
"Having recently retired through injury myself, this programme will provide much-needed support for many players with similar issues as a result of a career playing the game. It is fantastic that beyond retirement, the WRPAs charity Second Half Rugby can still look after players"
If you would like to support Second Half Rugby and your rugby heroes please donate to the following link.
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