Rugby League reporter @JennaBrooks
Rugby league's values shine through in times of crisis
Last Updated: 10/04/20 10:31am
United, respect, courage, collectivism and inclusivity - in troublesome times, rugby league displays its true values.
Often, in challenging times, we have seen the sport's community come together and do what they can to support those in need.
We witnessed it with the tragic death of Danny Jones in 2015. More recently, in January, that same community turned out in full force to help raise money for one of the sport's greats, Rob Burrow, who was diagnosed with the incurable motor neurone disease.
Not long after the news broke about Burrow, Mose Masoe suffered a career-ending spinal injury. Again, we saw the sport rally behind the Hull Kingston Rovers co-captain and his family.
So, when I spoke to Chris Rostron, head of Rugby League Cares - an independent charity which supports players at the end of their careers - to talk about what clubs are doing to help support people in their communities, I wasn't surprised. I was filled with pride.
"One thing that's really important about rugby league is the people, the values, the behaviour and the culture that exists within the sport," Rostron said. "When you see a crisis come about, all those values come to the fore.
"Just like the rest of society, we are all sort of suffering, but the spirit in rugby league is to make the best of the situation we find ourselves in."
One thing that’s really important about rugby league is the people, the values, the behaviour and the culture that exists within the sport. When you see a crisis come about, all those values come to the fore
Another example of the sport coming together is the initiative 'Rugby League United', where RL Cares have teamed up with the RFL, Super League and the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, focusing on encouraging fans and the broader community to stay fit and healthy.
Working with current and former players the aim is to support the mental fitness of all communities, offering guidance on staying active at home, managing stress and anxiety, looking after your nutrition and how this affects mental fitness, with links to 24-hour support.
"We put out a call for volunteers within the sport to help with past players," Rostron said. "The reality is we were overwhelmed by that response. So, we have quite a lot of volunteers that we can't actually deploy.
"I know clubs have been involved in supporting the vulnerable in their community, getting in touch with older fans, checking that they are okay.
"The truth is, in normal times our players are active in the community, so of course when it comes to a situation like this, they will double that effort and do the very best they can."
Away from the great work clubs and players are doing, individuals in the game are also stepping up.
Former St Helens star and current Toronto Wolfpack player Jon Wilkin has a restaurant and coffee business, and the 36-year old has been using his free time to help those in need.
"We've kept the bakery going, so we are still baking and doing home deliveries for people," Wilkin said.
"I'm enjoying doing something productive. We delivered 50 survival packs to NHS staff who are all stuck in an apartment block."
Super League referee Chris Kendall, who was furloughed last week, has signed up to local and NHS volunteer services, as has Wigan Warriors forward Willie Isa.
"Your kind of the first response around your community, really. I'm just waiting for the siren to go off and see if anyone needs help," Isa told Sky Sports' Golden Point Daily podcast.
"We've gone to our neighbours and people down the road. There's people we haven't met before, which is a great thing for us, to finally meet people."
Wakefield Trinity have launched a new clothing line which features the club badge and NHS logo, with £2 from each item sold being donated to the NHS.I know these are just some examples of hundreds of how rugby league is stepping up and doing what they can to help in these testing times.