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.”
Leeds Rhinos Foundation is proud to support Rugby League Cares’ Offload programme, helping men to build a winning mindset and tackle their mental fitness.
We have new Offload courses starting in September, with places still available for the fixtures at Drighlington Rugby Club and Morley Cricket Club which will run every Tuesday from 7th September.
Each session looks at a different topic surrounding mental health, and using the experiences and guidance from former professional rugby league players will give participants the tools to tackle their mental wellbeing and cope with challenging situations.
For more information about the Offload programme and to register your interest for the free weekly fixtures, please contact email@example.com.