2022: a year of huge strides for player welfare

2022: a year of huge strides for player welfare

Rugby league’s commitment to safeguarding the health and wellbeing of the sport’s most important stakeholders, its players, has continued to strengthen throughout 2022.

Significant investment in player welfare services by Rugby League Cares has been accompanied by some outstanding work at club level, where an enlightened approach by chairmen and chief executives is seeing players supported like never before.

RL Cares works closely with the clubs’ dedicated player welfare managers to help achieve the charity’s aim of providing world-class levels of support for the playing community.

“2022 has seen a tremendous amount of good work take place, both by the charity and by the clubs, and we are in a good place going into 2023,” said RL Cares Director of Welfare and Wellbeing, Steve McCormack.

“We are investing a lot of money in upskilling the player welfare managers and from January we will have in place a comprehensive range of CPD (Continuing Professional Development) opportunities that will enhance the levels of support available to players.

“The buy-in from the club CEOs, chairmen and head coaches has been critical to this success: everyone now understands the importance of it and the sport is getting better as a result.

“On behalf of everyone at RL Cares I would like to thank the chairmen, CEOs and coaches for their support for what are doing: the sport’s welfare offer to its players has never been better and we all remain committed to improving it further.”

This year saw the launch of the charity’s new whole person wellbeing education programme, the first session of which was attended by 32 club representatives including CEOs, player welfare managers, heads of youth, assistant coaches, physiotherapists, strength and conditioning coaches, chaplains and current and retired players.

In addition, a wellbeing education programme was delivered to over 700 players and staff across Super League, Championship and League 1 by the charity’s Welfare and Projects Manager, Steve Hardisty.

As the year ended, RL Cares welcomed the player welfare managers from 11 of the 12 Super League clubs plus Toulouse, York and London to a conference in Manchester, where attendees shared best practice and received presentations from some of the charity’s partners.

Those included legal firm Slater Heelis, who hosted the meeting at their offices, All Sport Insurance, MPH Sports, Age Partnership and Mattioli Woods.

The agenda also included an update on education grants, which are awarded by RL Cares to help players prepare for the transition into the next stage of their working lives once playing rugby stops being their main source of income.

“We’ve awarded £50,000 of grants to players in 2022, a record amount for the charity which is an indication of the raised awareness among players of the need for them to plan for what comes next,” added McCormack.

“The breadth of training programmes and academic courses that the players are taking up is incredible: the sport has a lot to be proud of.”