Welcome to the LooseHeadz Club House.
We’ve built an online extension of every rugby club bar where you’re invited to talk nonsense and put the world to rights on all matters rugby.
If you’re offended by slightly salty language, passionate banter and even the odd rant then this probably isn’t the rugby blog for you. However, like the All Blacks, we have a “no dickheads” rule and we draw the line at offensive or inappropriate comments and will block any “dickheads” who just want to troll…just like we would in any rugby club bar.
The core LooseHeadz team are made up of 2 forwards and 2 backs covering 5 decades of experience with the youngest being 21 and the oldest being 50.
We’re all good friends who still play or have played for our local rugby union club and we love nothing better than debating God’s greatest gift. As you can imagine based on our diverse age range and positional classifications, our views and opinions are heavily debated. So instead of arguing with each other, we decided to share our thoughts with the wider rugby community and argue with you for a change.
LooseHeadz is destined to be a rugby apparel company and charity foundation which aims to raise money and awareness to help tackle the stigma of mental health. We believe that through rugby and sport in general we can help change perceptions of mental illness and encourage people to take positive actions to help themselves cope with mental issues
Recent news that Justin Harrison, the former Wallabies, Waratahs, Ulster and Bath forward, contemplated killing himself when his first marriage broke up garnered a lot of media attention. His increasingly common story highlights not only the persistent stigma surrounding mental illness, but the potential of sport to help tackle it.
Revelations about Harrison’s mental ill-health should come as no surprise, given that almost half the population experiences a mental health issue at some point in their lives. Why, then, do we find it so hard to talk about something that’s so prevalent?
Harrison is not the first high-profile athlete to reveal a struggle with mental illness. English cricketer Jonathan Trott withdrew from the 2013-14 Ashes campaign citing poor mental health. American footballer Brandon Marshall from the New York Jets has made it his mission since 2011 to break the taboo associated with mental illness, openly discussing his experience with borderline personality disorder and English god, Sir Jonny Wilkinson himself has openly admitted to suffering with depression and anxiety at certain times. So while these are all massively positive individual steps, they also highlight the stigma that surrounds mental illness (why raise awareness if something is entirely acceptable to society already?). And they show how our sporting culture and elite sports organisations are uniquely placed to break down this stigma.
The problem is that the culture of sport and, more broadly, notions of masculinity strongly contribute to the stigma surrounding mental illness. They both encourage a “harden up” culture, creating an expectation that people should be able to maintain emotional stability in the face of adversity.
Justin Harrison’s story is an opportunity to de-stigmatise mental illness among one of the “toughest” audiences. By publicly embracing one of its stars, rugby can help to normalise the experience of mental illness, pushing back against perceptions that it reflects some kind of weakness.
In a country that prides itself on international prowess on the sporting field, de-stigmatising mental illness through the stories of sporting heroes is a powerful way of starting a conversation. Community perceptions can change with greater awareness that no one is too tough or immune.
So please get involved by leaving comments, submitting your own nonsense and suggesting features to include or topics to cover, together we can build our own club and use rugby as a powerful advocate for tackling the stigma of mental illness.
Feel free to contact us with your feedback, ideas or articles, or to enquire about advertising @ Dave@looseheadz.com.
The LooseHeadz Team