Irish rugby international and Soyaux Angoulême player, Robin Copeland, was on hand to officially launch this year’s #TheBigRugbyRun, which will take place virtually on May 22nd, 2021, with funds raised going toward initiatives run by Tackle Your Feelings, a mental health and well-being programme run by Rugby Players Ireland.
Now in its second year, #TheBigRugbyRun aims to connect the grassroots of the Irish rugby community together following an extremely challenging season for clubs and their members. This year’s event is being organised once more by the PSA Academies team, headed by Naas Coach, Johne Murphy and Graham Ross, with the support of Rugby Players Ireland (RPI), Zurich Ireland and the Z Zurich Foundation, and it is hoped that it will build upon the success of last year’s event, which saw over €60,000 raised for Feed the Heroes by 117 teams made up of 1,700 runners from all four corners of the country.
This year’s event format will once more see each registered team committing to running the 42 kilometer distance of a full marathon – all while carrying a rugby ball! This distance can be completed as a relay, by teams of between 2 to 21 members of all ages. Teams will have their own fundraising pages, and will also be able to log their individual times, with each relay squad also able to compare their overall run times to others in their category.
Tackle Your Feelings is an all-island mental health and well-being campaign from Rugby Players Ireland (RPI) in partnership with Zurich Ireland and with the support of the Z Zurich Foundation. The campaign is an innovative and unique approach to breaking down stigma around emotional well-being, and encourages people to be proactive about looking after their mental well-being. The run will inspire people to ‘Take Control’ of their mental health and well-being, by using the Tackle Your Feelings app which equips users with the tools to develop coping skills, including developing and identifying personal support networks as well as encouraging recognition for professional help when needed.
The need for a focus on mental well-being in Ireland is starkly apparent now more than ever due to the long-term negative impact of Covid-19 on the nation’s mental health – an issue that is becoming more and more apparent across the ages and demographics. With another season gone by for the rugby community with no competitive on-field action, the ‘Tackle Your Feelings’ mission has never felt more relevant than it is right now. This has been highlighted even further by research recently commissioned by Rugby Players Ireland and carried out by iReach Insights, with 25% of 25-34 year old respondents stating that they had taken sick leave during lockdown because of their mental well-being. 49% of participants noted that their mental well-being has diminished since the outbreak of Covid-19, while 40% are unsure how they should manage their mental well-being.
Funds raised by #TheBigRugbyRun 2021 will go towards training up and fully equipping each represented club with a dedicated Tackle Your Feelings ambassador – a person that anyone in the club can go to for advice, support and help. Specific Tackle Your Feelings programmes will be rolled out by RPI with each club to ensure volunteers, coaches, and teammates are equipped to help support anyone who is facing a challenging situation, while working towards building and maintaining an environment that encourages and supports positive mental wellbeing.
Speaking at the launch today, Simon Keogh, Chief Executive Officer at Rugby Players Ireland, stated: “The long-term impact of Covid-19 is becoming more and more evident across the country each week, with many people struggling with their mental health. Rugby Players Ireland is very proud to provide people with the Tackle Your Feelings app in order to help provide them with the tools and support that they need in order to Take Control of their mental health and well-being. #TheBigRugbyRun will benefit both mind and body, and we would like to thank our partners in Zurich Ireland, the Z Zurich Foundation and PSA Academies, for making this year’s event possible.”
Graham Ross, co-founder of PSA Academies added: “#TheBigRugbyRun 2021 marks the end of the ‘normal’ season but it will also reconnect club members who have been apart for some time. We’re inviting the Irish rugby community to come together again – both virtually and socially distant – to raise vital funds for another critically important cause at the end of another lost season. We are grateful for the support of our partners and look forward to seeing everyone out running, with rugby ball in hand, on May 22nd.”
Also speaking today, Robin Copeland said: “I am delighted to launch the 2021 Big Rugby Run today in support of Tackle Your Feelings. This past year has been a difficult one for all of us, and it is important for everyone to take time to look after and Take Control of their own mental health and well-being. I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone clocking up their miles on the day, all while raising vital funds for this important campaign.”
This year’s run is open to all ages and abilities, from Minis rugby up to retired veterans, and teams can find out more about the event and how to register via www.thebigrugbyrun.com where teams will pay a flat €50 team registration fee. All participating underage teams will also be entered into a Grand Prize Draw to win a selection of #TheBigRugbyRun merchandise prizes, signed by some special friends of RPI, TYF and PSA Academies. Participating teams and runners will also be able to purchase special commissioned #TheBigRugbyRun merchandise for the event.