Image Credit: Luke Snell
Why did you start Swing Low 7s?
I started Swing Low to allow rugby players to meet other; like- minded, people who work towards charities that do great work for people in tough spots. My girlfriend, Amelia, and my family back home all heard my idea and have helped me with ideas like slogans and people to go to.
What are the key points of the club?
There’s three key points: to get rugby players talking and engaging with each other more, to allow play - ers and our officials an easy avenue to help charities throughout UK. This last point about geography is particularly important as more students move around after uni and Swing Low will allow them to build a support network hopefully spanning the country.
Why do you think it’s important to have men talk about their mental health?
I think it’s been a thing from tradition where men don’t talk. I want men to be straight with one another about a bad situation, practical or psychological.
How do you think clubs such as yours can help this?
My club works alongside the more normal rugby clubs who are from certain areas. Swing Low will take anyone out of their daily lives and throw them in to a situation with a few mates and the rest strangers at first. After the match we’ve got a social sphere where I’ll make it friendly and not too far, allow people of all age groups to have a chat while relaxing.
Have you personally been aided by sport in mental health?
My girlfriend first gave me the confidence to turn to sport in a bad spot. I was really underweight and decided to throw myself into Mowden Parks team in Darlington. Since then I’ve trained and the more confident my mental health is, the better I play. So, sport has really given me a focus and an avenue for success.
Why a rugby club?
Obviously it was never going to be football which I’m truly dire at, but rugby for me was a way to get lads, from drama boys who do musicals to Petty officers in the Navy, to come together, as I realised that those two extremes really aren’t too different and would get along great. Rugby allows these talented lads to express themselves, whether it’s sheer size, quick feet or a sharp mind. Or like me both.
What ways will Swing Low ‘unite rugby players into a supportive community’?
I absolutely loved this quote from my dad about the idea. I don’t know if he realised at the time, but it shows the double-edged approach of the club. It will support the players through a closed online community where lads can say they need a drink with someone or just open up, but it also allows them to work together to be supportive to the wider com - munity. I’m hoping that after our launch we’ll do our own fundraising events where lads from places like Cam - bridge and County Durham can do tough mudders together and other activities to raise money for charity.
Why did you pick the charities you chose to represent for this match?
So, with this I’d love to start with Teamluke. Teamluke was the easiest decision for this game and we’d love to support them more in the future. It was set up in Darlington in memory of a young lad who passed away from Neuroblastoma on 23 December 2018. His dad in particular will always be my captain in whatever we’re doing. I have the privilege to say he’s playing in our match in March. I love the fact this charity helps students engage with the wider community.
Movember was an obvious choice; so many lads know it already and it does amazing work around the globe for men’s mental health. Our representative is the Uni rep for Movember as well and between us, we agreed it’s a great one.
BEAT is from my heart to be honest. After I fought my issues with weight with the help of those closest to me, I wish I’d known there was a charity pushing the warning signs and raising awareness, particularly among men.
How have you managed to get 9 clubs represented in the match in March?
The clubs are UYRUFC, Uni rugby league, Sheffield uni rugby, James rugby, Halifax rugby, Darlington Mowden Park, Ampthill rugby, Billingham rugby and Manchester medics as well.
So, a lot of these are obviously from the uni but the other clubs are from my own personal support and also one player who dominated me so badly in a 1 on 1 that he had to get the nod. He also does a lot of work for charity also.
The idea is to give final year students a chance too so we can make it an annual event and get the fraiche and second years excited.
The club’s first match will be on Sunday 08 March on 22 Acres against Heat East RFC, in aid of all the charities mentioned.