Rugby League Cares boosts player welfare provision

Rugby League Cares boosts player welfare provision

Rugby League Cares has strengthened its player welfare and wellbeing team with the appointment of Steve Hardisty in a new role of Wellbeing and Projects Manager.

Steve joins the charity after 10 years supporting players at Huddersfield Giants in his capacity as Academy player performance manager and, for the last six years, player welfare manager.

He will work alongside RL Cares’s Director of Welfare Steve McCormack, Transition Manager Francis Stephenson and Community and Welfare Manager Keith Senior delivering welfare and wellbeing support services to the playing community.

Steve McCormack said: “We are delighted to welcome Steve aboard, he’s a valuable and important addition to the welfare team whose presence underlines RL Cares’s commitment to delivering a world class player welfare programme.

“Steve will help us enhance the lives of all the sport’s stakeholders, from junior players upwards, by providing opportunities for them to acquire information and learnings on issues such as building positive relationships, resilience and gratitude.

“Our aim is to help players become resilient, maintain positive and healthy relationship with friends and family and build a network of trusted people. All of these qualities and skills are essential for a player to thrive during their career and after they retire.

“A lot of his emphasis will be on positive psychology and enabling people to flourish by leading happy, fulfilling lives, both during and after their playing careers.

“Our transition programme has made huge strides under the leadership of Francis Stephenson over the last two years and Steve Hardisty’s appointment will enable us to replicate that success at youth and Academy level.”

Steve Hardisty said: “The sport’s player welfare provision has improved immeasurably since RL Cares became responsible for delivery two years ago and I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to work with such a great team.

“Rugby League now leads the way in so many areas of player welfare and I’m looking forward to playing a part in that success.

“Players are the sport’s most important stakeholders and we are committed to doing all we can with the resources we have to ensure they have the support they need to be successful in all areas of their lives.”

RL Cares urges Rugby League to pull together

RL Cares urges Rugby League to pull together

Rugby League Cares Head of Welfare Steve McCormack has issued an impassioned plea for the sport to rally together as it emerges from the most difficult 18-month period in its history.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been keenly felt in Rugby League communities and players, officials and administrators across all levels are working hard to deliver a sport that means so much to so many people.

Most people are showing patience and appreciation for that hard work, as well as continued faith in the game they all love, but in recent months there has been an under-current of misguided and often harmful negativity from some quarters, especially on social media.

Steve McCormack said: “In my role as Head of Welfare at Rugby League Cares, I see on a daily basis how hard everyone in our sport is working and how caring and passionate our stakeholders are.

“I see the sacrifices the players and coaches make to play the games; how our administrators are fighting hard to ensure our sport is thriving when Rugby League, like all sports and businesses, is going through trying times; how hard our match officials are working; the work our club CEOs are doing to ensure we have clubs to support; and the sterling efforts of our community clubs to enhance people’s lives on a daily basis.

“I also see the selfless work the medical staff and Covid officers do at clubs, under immense pressure, to ensure the health and wellbeing of everyone takes precedence.

“It is really important to understand that, even though we all look forward to watching our clubs in action at the weekend, the most important thing is the health of players and staff, and the health of their families. Nothing should compromise this.

“Unfortunately, I also see the impact of some of the unjust negativity the people in our sport receive. We all know that being involved in professional sport comes with pressure and public scrutiny and – in most cases – rightly so.

“However, the tone of some of the comments on social media, especially the hate-filled and ill-informed criticism I read on a daily basis, is both unnecessary and unacceptable.

“No-one in our great game, be they a player, an administrator, a match official or a fan of another club, deserves personal abuse.

“Thankfully, these people are very much in the minority and their behaviour has no place in Rugby League.

“We are rightfully proud of our sport’s ability to rally round and do the right thing when times are tough: we recognise the importance of community, of the wider Rugby League family and of the need to be decent, empathetic and honest.

“Now, more than ever, we need to embrace those values and recognise the impact our actions can have on the wellbeing of others.

“Like all sports, Rugby League is facing some considerable challenges in the post-pandemic era, but we have much to look forward to.

“None of us should ever lose sight of the fact that Rugby League is the best sport in the world, with the best supporters and communities that many are envious of.

“Let’s pull together, look after each other and make sure our game and all the people involved are able to flourish like we know they can.

“Rugby League Cares is proud of the role it plays in supporting our communities and we will continue to put Rugby League people at the heart of everything we do.”