Why Rugby Means More

Of the several hundred thousand adult men and women who regularly play rugby in the UK (and the over one hundred thousand who play in the US), greater than ninety-nine percent will never see a cent for their athletic troubles. All the glory of tries and tackles will never make the highlight shows. There will be no plaques or memorials for most of them. A few may live on in their club’s lore, but for the vast majority of ruggers, the moment on the pitch is all there will ever be. 

So why do we do it?

Rugby is a sport with many things in its favor—the culture, the camaraderie, the physicality, the strategy—but it is not a casual sport. The risks of playing rugby are inherently greater than in football, or cricket, or basketball. It’s not a sport to be trifled with or taken lightly. It’s a demanding sport, both physically and mentally. So why play it at all?

The simple answer—it means more. 

Why are we at Looseheadz so committed to linking rugby with mental health? Because the two go together. Every person who steps on to a rugby pitch is far more than a rugby player—they are parents, sons and daughters, employees, friends, significant others. Like everyone you pass on the street they are a potent mix of hopes and disappointments, dreams and realities, bills and grocery lists and evening plans, anxieties and emptiness, joy and pain, with rugby only the above water surface of the proverbial iceberg. 

And reality is, the game of rugby cures very little that ails us. It’s not a miracle pill or a vaccine against depression, or a fountain of youth. It’s an often brutal game played by tough women and men. But it’s those women and men who make rugby mean more than simply a game. 

Rugby means more because the people make it mean more. A rugby song may be rubbish lyrics set to a simple tune. But sung together by two opposing teams around a drafty clubhouse bar and it suddenly means more. The beer we drink after a match may be the cheapest the club could find. But drank together it’s a tonic, an elixir. The passing may be poor, the hands unreliable, the feet not fast enough, but at the end of the day the stories are still ours and the pay is none the less for our struggles. 

This means more. Not because of the glory, or lack there of, but because of the community. Rugby doesn’t take away our day-to-day struggles, but the people we surround ourselves with can help carry burdens too heavy even for the strongest second rower. Rugby is linked to mental health because everything is linked to mental health. But we believe that rugby provides the perfect environment to support the entire individual in their physical, mental, and emotional lives. 

If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or any other facet of your mental health, there are resources like Looseheadz and our partners to get you through the darkest days. It’s been a difficult time to build community, but rugby has always meant more and it still does now more than ever. A team is only as strong as the tie that binds it together. Join our team and the thousands who are connecting across the UK and beyond. We’re in this together. Because this means more.