In any physical sport like Rugby League, strength and physicality is always a key focus, but there has been a growing realisation that mental health is just as crucial for peak performance and overall wellbeing. Earlier this year, New Zealand Rugby League initiated a wellbeing kaupapa ‘Find your Front’ which aims to support Rugby League players, coaches, managers, volunteers and supporters who often face challenges and expectations when it comes to their wellbeing.
The term ‘find your front’ in Rugby League refers to the intent of landing on your front when making contact with the opposition to get the best advantage when playing the ball. New Zealand Rugby League have re-framed finding your front as a way to build resilience and promote open kōrero and striving to break the silence surrounding mental wellbeing in the Rugby League community.
Wellington Rugby League have been partnering with local health providers over the last few seasons to connect and engage on the importance of health and wellbeing of all players at representative levels, seniors, rangatahi and wider whānau in the community.
Some initiatives that have rolled out this year include:
Hauora rounds – the first round for all grades was a hauora round – several local health providers were in attendance with handy resources help the community with hauora and healthy living.
Find Your Front Workshops – in March, the 9-aside Wellington Orcas 16’s and 18’s youth male and female teams and the Randwick Kingfisher senior players participated in a Find Your Front workshop delivered by the NZRL wellbeing team which included Rugby League legends and former NZ Warriors, Ali Lauiti’iti, Shontayne Hape, Jerry Seuseu and Charlie Gubb along with Cliff Thompson (NZRL Wellbeing Manager) and Wesley Smith (Sport Chaplaincy).
Find Your Front Club Champions – Te Aroha Eels and Randwick Kingfisher senior teams are championing Find Your Front throughout the local rugby league community. Healthy Families Hutt Valley have supported this initiative by working alongside these clubs as they champion Find Your Front.
Randwick Kingfishers and Te Aroha Eels Premier teams wearing the newly launched Find Your Front training tops to raise the awareness of mental wellbeing across the rugby league community.
8 weeks into the premier men’s grade – Andre Whittaker, Wellington Rugby League Chief Executive has already seen a positive impact on players’ wellbeing.
“Lots of players feel a greater sense of support and a lot more confidence to speak up if they’re facing any challenges – big or small. We’re proud to create an environment that acknowledges and addresses mental health and overall wellbeing, and the Find Your Front kaupapa is redefining the Rugby League scene and ensuring that players can thrive both on and off the field” says Andre.
Check out the video below of some amazing rugby league players sharing how the game has made a positive impact on their wellbeing.
click on the image to watch
Wellington Rugby League’s commitment to ensuring the health and wellbeing of players and the wider rugby league community highlights the opportunity and role that sport can play to support and enable our communities to live healthier and fulfilling lives.
New Zealand Rugby League and One NZ Warriors launched the Find Your Front podcast where former and current players share their whakapapa, journeys to playing at an elite level, achievements and challenging times while touching on mental health.
Their stories aim to inspire and encourage listeners to break the stigma around mental health and encouraging players to find strength and confidence to speak up and seek support.
Listen to the podcast on Spotify