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Cornish Pirates’ media officer Phil Westren and joint head coach Alan Paver on Monday welcomed Kiwi Mark Philpott and his wife Luisa to the Mennaye Field.
Mark had just completed a run from Land’s End to Penzance, the first of a planned 70 in a row on a 1,000 miles route that will take him to John O’Groats in Scotland.
An Ultra Distance Runner aged 58, Mark is taking on what he describes as the biggest physical and mental challenge of his life – and that coming from someone who has twice overcome cancer and who at one time contemplated suicide.
Mark, who played representative level schoolboy rugby and was a professional tennis player in his youth before a leg cancer prematurely ended his career, is doing the challenge for various reasons, including to prove that age is no barrier, to support men and women across the rugby community through the amazing work of LooseHeadz, and to become the first New Zealander to complete the run.
To follow Mark’s journey on YouTube with daily Vlogs from the run, please link to:
It is felt by Mark that ‘work needs doing’ and ‘mental health needs to be number 1’, and in addition to running 1,000 miles through the UK over the next 70 days – a Run for Rugby – he is also visiting as many rugby clubs as he can in England, Wales, and Scotland along the way.
After stopping by the Pirates and being hosted by Phil and Alan, he commented:
“The club has a grand history in the sport, and to see some great All Black photos on the walls was a bonus for me! However, it was the apparent lack of focus on mental health in the game at the RFU level that made me sad. Players, coaches, and administrators are all struggling to implement solutions that allow them to address mental illness at both grassroots and the professional levels within clubs. We need to implement innovative solutions to allow clubs to prosper through better understanding and education of mental health and provide the funding required to take care of the people. If the people are in better shape, then the sport will be in better shape.”
Phil and Alan both spoke reference their thoughts and experiences, with Alan saying:
“What I feel would be helpful is to have some basic training for coaches around what to spot and how to deal with it, because a lot of what we have done to date it just using our common sense.
“We have a lot of education around concussion etcetera through the RFU but some around mental health would be helpful. What things can you do to look after yourself, and also from a coaching perspective what are the signs and actually what should we do.
“Discussing it is certainly useful as it enables to explore what needs to be done – to be aware of it or to seek help. We could perhaps have that as something woven into our education as coaches and as players.
“First and foremost a visit by someone to speak to us would be useful, to enable questions to be asked, as that always works well. Perhaps a visit at least once a year would prove beneficial, along with a toolkit that LooseHeadz can apparently provide.”
For more information about LooseHeadz, please link to:
Also please note LooseHeadz’s Just Giving Page to support Mental Health in Rugby via the following link:
Mark Philpott is fundraising for LooseHeadz Foundation (justgiving.com)