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Tessa's drive to get rugby community to 'give a ruck' about mental health

PUBLISHED: 14:55 04 December 2019 | UPDATED: 15:47 04 December 2019

Tessa Beecroft has founded Give a Ruck to try and encourage the rugby community to talk about mental health. Picture: Richard Emmerson

Tessa Beecroft has founded Give a Ruck to try and encourage the rugby community to talk about mental health. Picture: Richard Emmerson

Archant

People in the rugby world are being urged to open up about their feelings as part of a project to improve mental health and wellbeing in the sport.

Tessa Beecroft, founder of Give A Ruck, speaks in a video to launch the mental health campaign why she is wanting to target the rugby community. Picture: Near Ginger ProductionsTessa Beecroft, founder of Give A Ruck, speaks in a video to launch the mental health campaign why she is wanting to target the rugby community. Picture: Near Ginger Productions

Tessa Beecroft, from Holt Rugby Club, has founded the Give a Ruck campaign to give back to the club which supported her through anxiety and depression.

The Aylsham resident joined the club seven years ago and launched the initiative on Monday (December 2), with a video explaining the project.

Her aim is for the campaign to provide a signpost service for players to find the help they need and ultimately secure a mental health first aider for all rugby clubs.

The 32-year-old said: "The Give a Ruck project is a campaign that is aimed at reducing the stigma of mental health in the sport of rugby.

Tessa Beecroft in action at Holt Rugby Club. Picture: Stuart YoungTessa Beecroft in action at Holt Rugby Club. Picture: Stuart Young

"I was going through my own severe anxiety and depression.

"[After joining Holt] I could just enjoy my rugby and be with my friends, and talking about my mental health so openly some of the players felt they could too, about what their fears were and what they were worried about.

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"They feel comfortable talking to me about that kind of thing. The rugby club was there when I needed them."

In the video, the 32-year-old said she wants to encourage all areas of the sporting community to get on board.

She said: "If we lose somebody from that community because they have not been able to talk about how they feel, it would be an absolute tragedy."

The video also features interviews with Soul Phoenix, of England Touch Rugby, and Holt player Louis Chapman on the stigma and impact the campaign is having.

Since the video went online, Ms Beecroft has received messages from rugby clubs and players from across the UK.

She said: "I never really expected that response. I will forever be grateful to the support they have given me.

"I wanted to give back to Holt Rugby Club. If I can make a small difference it will be worth it."

She added the campaign will change the stereotype that "these players are really strong on the pitch so they have to be off the pitch".

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