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15 Sep 2023 290

UK Coaching and RFU unite: ‘Care and well-being must be at the heart of all sport'

On Concussion Awareness Day UK Coaching and the Rugby Football Union (RFU) advocate wider support to help coaches deliver safe and inclusive physical activity and sport. Rugby World Cup 2019 Finalist Anthony Watson is championing a sports movement that prioritises care, well-being and inclusion, underscoring the need for coaches and those who deliver sport and physical activity to receive the right resources, education, and assurance.

Watson, alongside UK Coaching CEO Mark Gannon and representatives from the RFU, came together during a participation session at Crewe and Nantwich RUFC on Concussion Awareness Day to speak collectively on the importance of a united approach to progressing the current practices across all sports.

Following the release of the first UK-wide Concussion Guidelines for Grassroots Sport earlier this year, the event, which also coincided with the Rugby World Cup, was created to reaffirm commitments to ensuring physical well-being for all and why sport’s priority must always be safety and well-being.

The agreed call-to-action outlined within the new guidelines of ‘if in doubt, sit them out’ has always been the position UK Coaching has advocated for, and through its Duty to Care campaign the organisation is working on making resources available for coaches to help identify, manage and prevent concussions.

Duty to Care’ is a movement launched by UK Coaching to galvanise the coaching workforce to fulfil its obligations around the education and provision of all aspects of care. The campaign aims to increase coaches’ confidence and put their own welfare, as well as the safety of their participants, at the centre of their coaching.

As the World Cup unfolds in France, back on home soil, grass-roots clubs and coaches continue to deliver outstanding experiences for participants at every level of the game. Having witnessed it firsthand, Anthony Watson, recognises the vital role coaches play in getting grass-roots communities active in safe and inclusive environments.

Current England International and Rugby World Cup finalist Anthony Watson, speaking at Crewe & Nantwich RUFC, expressed his support for a unified message of welfare across all sports, and the importance of coaches’ duty to care:

Coaches have a vital role in supporting the health, safety and well-being of their participants, and with all eyes on the Rugby World Cup it’s fantastic to see proactive and dedicated coaches who are building on the momentum within our game and leading the way on making care a priority. This is an essential part of making sport as enjoyable and accessible for everyone as possible.

“To achieve this, specific resources and education across all areas of care will help ensure coaches feel confident to prioritise well-being. Within rugby, and across all sports, we want to people to play safely, have fun and feel comfortable and confident taking part. I know from my own experience that coaches play a huge role in creating the right environment and culture for the people they coach to thrive. ‘Duty to Care’ is about getting that environment right, from the very start of your process and ensuring that coaches can deliver the best they can for everyone.”

Mark Gannon, UK Coaching CEO said: "With prevalent issues like concussion rightly raised by players, coaches and all involved in contact sports, it is essential that we collectively do all we can to help coaches and those who are on the ground delivering sport and physical activity in their communities, to grow their skills, knowledge and behaviours to address pressing welfare issues in physical activity and sport with confidence.

Mark Gannon, left, and England international Anthony Watson with coach and young players from Crewe & Nantwich Rugby Club

“Working closely with key sports like the RFU, this movement will see us lead on making a positive difference to the health and happiness of the nation by helping coaches understand, practice and have the highest commitment to safe sport as the foundation of great coaching practice. As part of our Duty to Care campaign, UK Coaching has created a comprehensive Duty to Care Hub of learning resources, along with a Sport England-funded nationally recognised Digital Badge to equip coaches with the knowledge, behaviours and skills needed to provide the best possible care for their participants.

“It is our responsibility to support coaches with education to be the best they can be and feel confident in their practice. Our amazing coaching workforce are the people who make sport happen across the UK and we cannot achieve meaningful change without giving them the right tools and guidance.”

Steve Grainger, Executive Director of Rugby Development at the RFU, said: “Player welfare is at the heart of all training delivered to coaches, match officials and medics at all levels of rugby union in England. Our aim is to bring more people into the game and strengthen the valuable role clubs play in their local community, so we continue to work hard to help manage the risk involved in the contact nature of the game through several programmes. 

"RugbySafe is the RFU’s overarching community game player welfare programme. Through it we encourage and support best practice through guidance, resources and highlighting the many physical and mental health benefits that rugby brings, providing enjoyment and keeping people active and healthy. As part of RugbySafe, HEADCASE is the RFU’s specific concussion awareness programme, it aims to increase understanding and provide information on concussion and other related topics, including how to prevent and manage suspected concussions. HEADCASE is an integral part of our training and education for coaches, match officials and medics. 

"Working with UK Coaching allows us to enhance our offer and resources, to support players, coaches, parents and others involved in the game, developing their understanding, awareness and behaviours around player welfare.”

As part of its Duty to Care campaign, UK Coaching introduced a comprehensive resource hub designed to assist every coach in their developmental journey. This hub offers a wealth of learning materials and support for the nation’s three million coaches, covering a range of important topics, including Diversity, Inclusion, Mental Health and Well-being, Physical Well-being, Safeguarding, and Safe to Practice. It also includes updated guidance on issues such as concussion, mental health support, online safety for children, combating the stigma associated with menstruation, and promoting LGBT+ inclusion.

Find out more about 'Duty to Care' by accessing our Duty to Care Hub

For resources on concussion, visit our concussion resources page.

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