31 May 2024

Rugby stars start charity to support ex-players

6:25 am on 31 May 2024
Former All Black Dan Carter

Former All Black Dan Carter Photo: PHOTOSPORT

A group of current and former rugby players from around the world launched the Global Rugby Players Foundation on Thursday, a charity aimed at helping players have healthy and fulfilling lives when they leave the sport.

Famous players, including Dan Carter, Jonny Wilkinson, Richie McCaw and Siya Kolisi, as well as Rachael Burford from the women's game, supported by World Rugby and the International Rugby Players (Association), established the independent organisation, whose board of trustees will be chaired by former Australia captain George Gregan.

The support of the foundation will be delivered across five main pillars - grant funding, access to health and well-being programmes, career and business coaching, community support among members, and partnership programmes, where the foundation will work with organisations and sponsors to provide opportunities for former players.

"Some players move onto new lives after rugby very successfully but what a lot of people don't realise is that a lot of players face many challenges when they step away from playing the game," the foundation's chief executive Sara Heath said.

"Rugby has a responsibility to these players and the Global Rugby Players Foundation seeks to reframe the concept of life after rugby by looking at it as a positive challenge and an opportunity to forge something new and exciting."

International Rugby Players chief executive Omar Hassanein said: "Over recent years, former players have highlighted the need for further support as they finish their playing careers. Some of the most common challenges include a loss of identity and changes to a person's sense of purpose and direction."

World Rugby chief executive Alan Gilpin also welcomed the organisation, which will kick off with pilot programmes in Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

"When the players came to us with their idea, an independent charity to support players with their life beyond the game, we were only too happy to do everything we could to support them," he said. "I look forward to watching it go from strength to strength in the coming months and years and World Rugby will continue to play our part in supporting the well-being of our current and former players."


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