World Rugby and The Australian Rugby Players’ Association launch Brain Health Service for former Rugby players

Mon, Apr 22, 2024, 3:37 AM
by Ananya Bhindi (RUPA Commercial and Communications Manager)
World Rugby and RUPA Partnership
World Rugby and RUPA Partnership
  • Former rugby union players in Australia will be able to access a new Health assessment service, free of charge.
  • The Service will be delivered in a partnership between World Rugby and The Australian Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA)
  • Any past player will be able to register to undergo an online test and assessment by a trained medical practitioner

World Rugby and The Australian Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA) are today launching a new Brain Health Service to support former rugby union players to undergo a health screening process that will provide a health report to recommend modifiable lifestyle habits with a view to improving quality of life or providing referrals for further testing if required Australia is part of a global ambition to have this service available to former rugby players, free of charge.

In 2021, World Rugby launched a six-point plan to continue to be a progressive sport on player welfare. A key pillar of that plan to support former players is the establishment of the Brain Health Service. 

The Brain Health Service, funded by World Rugby, has been designed using independent, scientifically proven examination techniques. Former players fill out an initial questionnaire and then have an online consultation with a trained brain health practitioner who will identify any signs that the individual may require a referral towards specialist care.

The Brain Health Service in Australia is administered by RUPA and will sit alongside the suite of support services RUPA offers to former players.

The service will be initially available to any male and female retired players who have competed at an International or Super Rugby level.

World Rugby Deputy Chief Medical Officer Prof Martin Raftery has welcomed the launch of the Brain Health Service saying “Former players read the news and hear the stories about their peers across all codes who are struggling. There is no doubt that these stories generate a lot of anxiety, nervousness and worry. The Brain Health Service gives players a place to go which can put their minds at ease or if required, put them in touch with medical experts who can further investigate any warning signs.

Rugby union has always prided itself on looking after our players whilst still being a strong, physical sport that is fun to watch and play. Player welfare is World Rugby’s number one priority and that applies equally to current and former players. In providing this Brain Health Service, World Rugby is once again demonstrating that our sport leads the world in looking after our players at all levels of the game and that we will never stand still when it comes to ensuring rugby is a game that can be enjoyed by everyone at every level of the sport.

Martin Raftery discussing the Brain Health Service and World Rugby's Partnership with RUPA
Martin Raftery discussing the Brain Health Service and World Rugby's Partnership with RUPA

Chief Executive of RUPA and Wallaby 770, Justin Harrison said “This partnership with World Rugby is a valuable support resource, available to any male and female retired players who have competed at an international or Super Rugby level, that is easily accessible and importantly, a way for past players to remain connected and supported by the Game.

To be able to access a free, Health Check service that will provide guidance for Past Players on brain health is an important recognition that all Players are valued, and that assistance is available.

RUPA is continually looking to provide a meaningful, realistic and consistent suite of support services to both its current and past players, this is an important and timely addition to the RUPA envelope of care."

Justin Harrison
Justin Harrison explaining how former players can benefit from the Brain Health Service

RUPA Chair, Campbell Fisher, commended the benefits of this initiative and encourages past players to take advantage of these specialised services. “Mental and overall physical health are an important focus for both our present and past players. RUPA certainly joins in thanking World Rugby for securing this valuable service to contribute to the continued wellbeing of our players once they have left the field.” 

“To have this facility now available on a global scale in the interests of the players and the game is gratifying indeed”.

RUPA President and Wallaby 952, Dave Porecki, endorsed the Brain Health Service as a valuable resource for past players. "I'm proud to support World Rugby and RUPA's Brain Health Service for past players. This initiative prioritises the well-being of players post retirement, offering a range of resources and support to help safeguard brain health.”

“It is a vital step forward in ensuring that players have the necessary tools and information to lead fulfilling lives beyond the field. On behalf of RUPA's members, we are very grateful for this service."

RUPA will release more information to its past player database in the coming weeks.