SARU launched the pilot project earlier this month in conjunction with SAIDS (the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport) and SARPA (the South African Rugby Players’ Association). The sessions have been attended by players of four of the five Vodacom Super Rugby franchises as well as the SA Under-20 training squad.
The aim is to warn players against being lured into using social drugs and educate them on the risks associated with narcotics.
“We have no evidence of a social drug use culture in South African rugby but there have been issues overseas and we have to be on our guard,” said Clint Readhead, SARU Medical manager.
“The unhappy reality facing players at the moment is that one wrong decision could result in some serious consequences to their health as well as to their career as a professional rugby player. They need to know that there are real medical dangers that are involved with social drug abuse as well as the damage it can do to a player’s family and career.”
The DHL Stormers attended their workshop today (Thursday) while the Cheetahs and the Springbok Sevens team are also being scheduled to receive the presentation.
“The health and wellbeing of players is critical to SARU,” said Jurie Roux, SARU CEO. “They are rugby’s primary assets and when a risk comes onto our radar we have to address it head on.
“The careers of players overseas have been massively damaged by social drug use, tarnishing the image of both the player and the sport and we want to guard against that as much as we can.
“Rugby players are role models to millions of youngsters across the country and with that honour comes a responsibility – we have to assist them in bearing that responsibility.”
The sessions include a mix of role-play and more traditional lecturing and the provision of educational material – facilitated by SAIDS. SARPA pays for their members to have access to ICAS – a wellness service provider – that assists players and their families with advice and support on any issue.
SARU hopes to carry the programme through to the annual Youth Weeks later this year.