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“Pain is temporary”. A phrase a lot of young people are told when they first start playing rugby. It’s one of those old clichés, up there with “the bigger they are, the harder they fall”. A lie, in other words. The bigger they are, the more painful they are to tackle. Nor is pain temporary. Not even close. With Mental Health Awareness Week taking place at the moment, we look at the safety of players and the impact rugby is having on their future health.

When you think of everything that goes into a rugby match, it is far more than just 80 minutes of trying to get the ball down on the other side of the pitch. There are a high number of collisions (between the tackle, ruck, and maul areas). A high number of training sessions include contact drills of some description. Players train in the gym in order to make themselves more athletic, stronger, and bigger than their opposition. And only the elite are monitored closely.

Most players will play while carrying an injury. Granted, they may not train in the lead up to that game in order to rehabilitate the injury as much as possible, but they will play. Look at Dan Carter in the Champions Cup final for Racing 92. He went into the game with one good leg, and came off early in the second half. Racing 92 still have the remainder of their domestic league to play-so why risk it? But the “it” is not risking missing your best player; the “it” is making sure the player isn’t risking his health in the future.

Sabbaticals are not a concept lost on Dan Carter. He went to Perpignan a number of years ago, and got out of the New Zealand limelight for a year. The idea was that playing away from all that pressure would rejuvenate his game. In theory it was a great concept. In reality, he ruptured his Achilles and played very little rugby.

Carter was destined to shine on the big stage, but getting knocked out of the 2007 World Cup and getting injured in the 2011 campaign stole that from him. He took a second sabbatical, this time not playing the game whatsoever. A while later, he was Man of the Match in a World Cup final, and kicked his last All Black conversion with his weaker leg.

I’m not saying a sabbatical was the magic behind his performance that day; I’m simply saying it helped.

Alex Corbisiero toured Australia in 2013 with the British and Irish Lions, and scored a try in the third Test. He established himself as one of the top front-rowers in the game. But he decided he had enough. His decision came about as his contract with Northampton Saints was winding down, and he chose to simply not renew his contract. Now, he’s in a good place.

“I’ve had 14 weeks off and feel really good. I was physically and mentally spent after 10 years of full-time rugby. The intensity, the physicality, the injuries and the pressure I put on myself took its toll. I knew if I wanted to play rugby again I had to stop for a while.”

It was brave of ‘Corbs’ to take a break, and he knew not everyone would appreciate his decision. But he did it anyway, as it was best for him. He was proactive rather than waiting for an injury to prevent him from playing long into the future.

But players want to play. They love the game, they love their job, and after earning an opportunity for become a professional sportsman/woman, why would they give it up for a year and face an uncertain future or a year with zero income? You require some level of robustness to play rugby, and fans can confuse that with being almost unbreakable. It’s simply not the case. Especially when it comes to younger players:

“The accumulative wear-and-tear worries me. Maro Itoje is a superstar at 21 and we need to make sure that in six years, at his peak, he’s fresh enough to be physically imposing. He’s a phenomenal player but we can’t have him being run into the ground by playing 30-odd games every season. Same as George North. He’s 24 and playing Tests since he was 18 – without a proper break. We have to look after these great players.”

Robert Kitson wrote a piece on England’s Rugby Championship system in which he referenced Ben Hooper’s sentiments. Hooper feels that players in the Championship are being forced to accept contracts by people with “scant interest in their physical or mental well-being”, but for very little money. Whereas the money is an issue, welfare should be the upmost priority. The mental aspect of the sport is just as strenuous as the physical.

Kitson also wrote an article based on the mental strain players face in professional rugby. He admires Rory Lamont’s opening up in the Sunday Times about his feelings towards retirement, and rightly so, as it was incredibly courageous:

“You’re thinking: ‘I don’t want to live like this. I’d rather die. Maybe if I’m lucky I’ll get struck by lightning or step in front of a bus.’ Coming out of rugby, my world pretty much collapsed.”

Kitson also describes how Lamont went on to describe how he struggles to cope outside what professionals would describe as a “safety-blanket” of club rugby. He added:

“Once that’s removed, you’re that little child, completely scared, totally vulnerable and very much on your own. I wasn’t always in love with rugby, but I was surrounded by friends, travelling the world. Suddenly everything was gone. I felt like a spent battery, tossed on the scrapheap.”

But all this talk of taking a break is not a recent phenomenon. George Chuter echoed Corbisiero’s sentiments in an interview with the Guardian, when he spoke about how his gift of a long career was in fact borrowed time from his future:

“I’m under no illusions. You have a great career, you have a great time – and it is a great career – but the human body can’t take that sort of punishment and come away scot-free. If you want to get to the top level you’ve got to make sacrifices. And it’s not just your time, or a bag of chips – it’s sacrificing your long‑term health. You want to have that time in the sun. But unfortunately it’s a deal with the devil.”

But Chuter decided to act, and like Corbisiero, he took a sabbatical in 2000. He felt he disillusioned with the game, so he walked away for a time. As fans will know, that did not signal the end of Chuter. He came back to have an illustrious career with Leicester Tigers and became a fan favourite.

But since Chuter’s sabbatical in 2000, one he took partially due to being mentally drained, things have changed. Players are only a tweet away from being accessible to the public 24/7, leaving them prime targets for upset fans after a poor game. Social media is just another platform where these players, who may be struggling internally, can be poked at with taunts and ill wishes. This does not help to aid their mental recuperation. It does not add to their self-confidence, or their self-worth. Just because they play sport at an elite level does not mean they aren’t struggling with their own issues.

Sabbaticals seem to work. Alex Corbisiero is happy. George Chuter returned to have a glittering career. Dan Carter became the World Player of the Year for the third time. His New Zealand team-mate and twice-winning World Cup captain Richie McCaw deemed one necessary. Of late, David Pocock had a sabbatical to study abroad included in his contract. Even Joe Marler has withdrawn himself from the England tour to Australia to rest for next season. But how could unions go about to make these breaks accessible to players who can’t afford to take one off their own backs?

Perhaps the unions could include a sabbatical period in every contract. Players could be offered the option of a period of 3-6 months half-pay in return for taking one, or clubs could offer the option of a six month paid leave after a certain period of service. Just an idea.

A sabbatical could offer players a chance to build on their lives outside rugby; experience what it’s like to live a normal life for a while, let them concentrate on their business or focus on what they’ll do when they hang up the boots. It would allow them to recover mentally and physically, so that Lamont’s situation won’t be repeated.

I am also in no way stating that the clubs, unions, or players’ unions are not doing a good job; I’m only hoping that player welfare continues to improve. With this being Mental Health Awareness Week, there’s no time like the present.

Image Credit: Sky Sports

Interview Credit: The Irish Times, The Guardian

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Tá stíl imeartha rugbaí d’fhoirne an Pro 12 ag dul in olcas. Tá foirne anois ag iarradh cluiche cosanta a imirt; tá siad ag iarraidh an cluiche a bhuachaint ó bhotúin a sainnithe. Ach ní féidir an méid seo a rá faoi Chonnacht.

 

Le trí shéasúr anuas, tá Pat Lam ag cruthú stíl imeartha nua sa gcúige, stíl ionsaithe nach bhfuil foireann eile sa sraith ag imirt. Chaill siad go leor cluichí ag tús a réimis, ach ní a thuilleadh. Ghlac na himreoirí leis, agus ghlac lucht leanúna an chúige chomh maith, agus anois tá siad sa dara áit sa sraith.

 

Bhí Rob Penny ag iarraidh an stíl céanna a chruthú do Mhumha nuair a bhí seisean ina chónaí i Luimneach, ach ní raibh lucht leanúna an Mumhain sásta fanacht air. Chaill sé go leor cluichí i rith blianta a cheannasaíochta (shroich sé babhta leath-cheannais na hEorpa freisin, rud nach ndearna Foley) agus fuarthas réidh leis.

 

Ach bhí an ceart ag Connacht níos mó ama a thabhairt go Lam a stíl imeartha a thabhairt isteach. Anois, tá na scileanna ag Connacht ionsaí a dhéanamh ó áit ar bith ar an bpáirc. Cé go bhfuil go leor gortuithe acu, tá siad fós in ann a stíl féin a imirt. Tá sé ionsuite sna himreoirí.

 

D’imigh Connacht chuig an bhFrainc an deireadh seachtaine seo chaite chun cluiche leath-ceannais a imirt in aghaidh Grenoble, agus beidh ‘séard a tharla ann i gcuimhne na leantóirí go deo. Cluiche den scoth a bhí ann, cluiche a chaill Connacht le pointe amháin. Cé gur chaill siad, d’imir siad cluiche nach bhféadaidís in ann imirt trí bhliain ó shin. D’imir siad le saorimeacht, bród, luas agus paisean.

 

Thosaigh Shane O’Leary an cluiche ag uimhir a deich de dheasca gortuithe ag AJ MacGinty agus Jack Carty. Chuir sé cic trasna na páirce ina 22 féin, ach ní uaidh féin a tháinig an cinnedh sin; cinnte gur tháinig an teachtaireacht sin ó Lam chun an chic sin a dhéanamh. Ach rinne sé a sheacht ndícheall, agus tógfaidh sé go leor muinín ón gcluiche. Fuair sé slánú ón taobhlíne go luath sa gcluiche agus stiúir sé an imirt i rith a thréimhse ar an bpáirc.

 

Ach má tá muid chun caint faoi imreoir a raibh an tionchar is mó ar an gcluiche aige, caithfidh muid labhairt faoi Matt Healy. D’imir sé thar barr. Bhí sé breá compórdach i ról an lánchúlaí. Fuair sé úd, agus rinne sé dhá úd freisin. Rith sé gach uile liathróid a bhfuair sé agus ní raibh cosaint Grenoble in ann déileáil leis an sleaschéim nó leis aluas a bhí aige. Is dóigh go raibh Joe Schmidt ag breathnú ar an gcluiche, agus sheol Healy teachtaireacht thar a bheith soileár dó: tá sé réidh don stáitse idirnáisiúnta.

 

Bhí Fergus McFadden ar bhinse na hÉireann i rith an 6 Násúin mar gheall go raibh an córas cosanta ar eolas aige (nílim ag rá gur drochimreoir é ach oiread, ach bhí imreoirí Éireannacha eile ag imirt níos fearr ná é ag an am). Níor roghnaigh Schmidt Healy mar gheall ar seo. Ach i rith an tsamhraidh, ba cheart do Healy dul chuig an Afraic Theas agus geansaí na hÉireann a chaitheamh. Beidh bainisteoir nua ag foireann na hAifraice Theas agus beidh siad ag streachailt leis an stíl nua a bheidh á thabhairt isteach aige. Cinnte, cluichí fisiciúla a bhéas ann, ach is deis iontach é an turas sin imreoirí ar nós Healy, chomh maith le Ultan Dillane, Finley Bealham agus Garry Ringrose, a thriail. Taithí iontach a bheadh ann dóibh.  

 

Beidh Connacht ag imirt in aghaidh na Mumhan i nGaillimh an deireadh seachtaine beag seo agus is cluiche ollmhór é do na Connachtaigh agus na Mumhanaigh. Beidh daoine ag rá go mbeith sé deacair d’fhoireann Connachta a n-intinn a réiteach tar éis dóibh chailliúit sa bhFrainc.

 

Ach breathnaigh ar na firicí: chuaigh siad chuig ceantar na hAlpa gan a gcéad, dara nó triú rogha leathchúlaí amuigh; d’ionsaigh siad ó gach áit ar an bpáirc; ní raibh go leor imreoirí céad-roghnach acu; chaill siad Jake Heenan díreach roimh an gcluiche. Ach fós scóráil siad 32 pointe agus ceithre úd. Ní fhaigheann mórán foirne 32 pointe in aghaidh foirne Fraince le foireann iomlán sa mbaile, gan trácht a dhéanamh ar chluiche as baile.

 

B’fhéidir gur chaill Connacht in aghaidh Grenoble sa bhFrainc, ach d’imir siad thar barr, le himreoirí a chreideann sa ngeansaí, sa mbainisteoir agus sa stíl imeartha. Tá Jack Carty ar ais ag treanáil arís freisin, agus is suimiú ollmhór é sin freisin. Imreoidh siad leis an stíl imeartha agus an paisin céanna in aghaidh na Mumhan; ní athróidh tada ach an timpeallacht.

Pictiúr tógtha ó Newstalk.

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Dominic Ryan first came to my attention in the U20 World Cup, when he played alongside captain Rhys Ruddock in the backrow. I remember thinking Ruddock, due to his frame and power, would grab the headlines, but I remember thinking Ryan was a fantastic footballer at openside.

Fast forward seven years, and believe it or not, Ryan is a senior member of the Leinster team, which he realised while looking at a teamsheet:

“I think I was the second most-capped player in the squad behind Isa (Nacewa),” said Ryan yesterday.

“I never (thought about it) you just go out on the pitch and just play and talk to myself. Maybe that’s been the reason why, over the past six or eight months, I play more of a leadership role in the squad.

“You’ve got a lot of young guys in the team, who maybe are looking for leadership – because I have 100 caps or whatever I’ve played. That was the case when I was a young guy. You’d always have the likes of Jenno in the team, who’d be the older maybe non-international player, who’s always there providing leadership.

If things are going wrong on the pitch, or defensively getting lads sorted. I suppose, my role changed in terms of: ‘I’m not on the pitch to just make tackles and carry’.”

This senior player mindset isn’t a new phenomenon. If you look at the Leinster team, it is littered with players who have been there and done that. But what niggles Ryan is how little rugby he is playing even though he has amassed 100 caps. Asked if he has ever considered leaving the province, his answer may not be liked by the Leinster faithful:

“Oh I have, yes, I have,” the flanker told the hoard of microphones in front of him.

“You talk to the coaches about it, keep it to yourself, talk to fellow players about it.  Maybe you’re not playing because you are not good enough. Sometimes it is down to yourself, am I playing well enough to get picked? Sometimes you might be to blame yourself.

“It’s a luxury for Leinster that they have so many quality back rows. It’s a pain for players, but you’ve grown up in Leinster and your whole life, you’ve dreamed of playing for Leinster.

“What am I, six seasons now at it? Yeah, it might be an option in the future, but I’m contracted for next season (to 2017) so I just have that in mind and whatever happens after that we’ll see.

“It’s important to get a run of games. It’s tough to try and get into a rhythm when you’re playing 20 minutes off the bench. Then you start a game and you mightn’t play the next weekend, then you might be benching the weekend after that. Regular game time is important for me mentally as well as physically.

“I’ve had a good run now that the lads are away at the Six Nations, so hopefully I’ll keep it up.”

Second place Leinster face table leaders Connacht in the Sportsground this weekend, and will look to grind out a win to continue their rise in the league. But it seems Ryan will have extra motivation.

Sean O’Brien will be soon returning from injury and looking to earn a spot on the plane to South Africa in a backrow who already delivered in the Six Nations. Rhys Ruddock will also be vying for a place in the squad. Even new boy Van Der Flier is ahead of him in the pecking order.

Ryan is a team player; in his mind, Leinster comes first. But given he is looking for an opportunity to join the rest of the Irish squad at Dublin airport this summer, he will have the bit between his teeth to impress.

Our RBS 6 Nations XV

Posted: March 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

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With the competition ending on Saturday, with Hartley’s England being Grand Slam champions, we decided to select our RBS 6 Nations XV.

1. Jack McGrath
2. Guilhem Guirado
3. WP Nel
4. Maro Itoje
5. George Kruis
6. CJ Stander
7. John Hardie
8. Billy Vunipola
9. Greig Laidlaw
10. Dan Biggar
11. Virimi Vakatawa
12. Owen Farrell
13. Duncan Taylor
14. George North
15. Stuart Hogg

What do you think?

Jones Engages in Scrum Debate

Posted: March 10, 2016 in Uncategorized

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Eddie Jones seemed pretty unhappy with questions raised about Joe Marler’s scrummaging in an interview with BBC. Here’s what he had to say on the matter:

Are Wales a one dimensional side?

What Wales do, they play the laws very well. I’m quite upset about the way they scrummage. They scrummage illegally. They pre-engage all the time which is against the laws of the game.

What happens in a game of rugby is that they pre-engage because they don’t want the contest at the start of the scrum.

They get penalised one or two times at the start of the scrum, but then they get sick of penalising them because if the referee keeps penalising them, then the referee gets criticised.

We really want to have a scrum contest on Saturday as that’s an important part of the game, so we’re really hopeful the referee enforces the law in that area.

So you think they’ve been scrummaging illegally all Six Nations?

Absolutely 100%. Terribly illegally. You’re not allowed to pre-engage, that’s part of the law. But they do it and they consistently do it, but they only get penalised at the start of the game because if you’re Wayne Barnes or Craig Joubert and you keep penalising Wales for pre-engaging, then what will all the smart guys in the commentators box say?

They’ll say the referee is ruining the game, but the referee isn’t ruining the game, it’s the team that is scrummaging illegally that’s ruining the game.

We want the referee to be really hard and if he wants to ruin the game, then he has to ruin the game.

Do they take out the contest of the scrum?

They try to take out part of the contest of the scrum, which is the very small engagement but is so important.

World Rugby has spoken about being ear to ear the whole time and that’s why we don’t want teams to pre-engage.

Wales don’t want that contest for the engagement.

What do you want Craig Joubert to do if Wales are up to their tricks?

Keep penalising them.

Could the scrum turn into a lottery at the weekend?

We’ve got the strongest scrum, so we want proper scrum laws. We want the laws enforced and if they are enforced we’ll get an advantage in that area.

Has Jones, a man who said he wouldn’t speak to the media before the Welsh game, planted some seeds in the referee’s mind already?

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There’s a hurling goalkeeper from Cork, Ireland, named Anthony Nash. What makes Nash special, besides the fact he’s mental enough to want to play in that position, is that he was the penalty taker for his team.

Whenever Cork won a penalty, it was Nash who would jog the length of the field and try his hand at scoring. It wasn’t because he had a subtle skill that made him the best penalty taker on the team. It’s because he bent the rules.

Nash would rise the sliotar, but raise it high enough so as he could run in a few yards and blast it towards goal at a much closer range. Nothing wrong here-the rule simply stated that the player must raise the sliotar from the marked spot. Nash was doing exactly that.

But over the next few months, people began to complain. After all, this was a very dangerous practice and an opposition goalkeeper could incur a serious injury. Young players were seeing this and, as it normally resulted in a goal, were going to copy this style. Committees met, people argued, and low and behold the rule was changed. Now he had to strike the sliotar on or before the 20 metre line. All credit to the GAA, they recognised a dangerous practice and ruled it out before it resulted in a serious injury.

Why am I talking about Anthony Nash? Because the argument behind his style of penalty taking in hurling hints at a problem in rugby.

The chop tackle is probably the most effective tackle in rugby, especially in underage rugby when some children or teenagers tower over their opposite numbers. So kids are told to get low. The higher the tree, and all that.

This is good practice. It encourages low tackling, good positioning, and good technique. The chop tackle stops the player at source, and allows a supporting defender to to attempt a turnover.

Simple, straightforward, safe.

But now there comes the argument of Dan Lydiate, the world’s best chop tackler. He gets incredibly low, and more often than not, stops the attack at source.

The only problem is, much like Nash, Lydiate is bending the rules. Against France, he was penalised for not using his arms in the tackle, but by the TMO who told Barnes to come back for it. In fairness to Barnes, it’s tough to tell if a player uses his arms or not from four yards away.

But Lydiate aims for bootlaces,as the term goes. He goes as low as he physically can, which often results in him hitting area around the bottom of the shin. People may not agree with this, but that is dangerous.

I know we’re talking about a tackle that is the complete and utter opposite of a high tackle, which means it should be completely fine. But is it?

One of the more common types of non-contact knee injury occurs when the foot “sticks” to the ground and the knee or ankle experiences abnormal stress. As the player stops suddenly or plants his or her foot, the boot stays planted and the knee experiences both shear and rotational stress. This, in turn leads to increased risk of knee injury, particularly ruptures of the anterior cruciate ligament.

In Layman’s terms, if your foot is stuck in the ground and you’re moving forward, something has to give. Getting kicked in the shin is something we’ve all experienced. Somebody propelling their body weight into your shin, as your foot is planted in the ground with studs, is something completely different.

Teenagers hear about Lydiate’s tackle success and how he is one of the best defenders in the world due to his technique. Players all over the world play the game in order to have fun and develop as much as possible. Developing into a quality defender is also one of their goals.

It is simply dangerous. If done from the front, it can cause hyperextension of the knee, and from the side, a broken or seriously hurt ankle.

Again, people are going to argue that it’s not a high tackle, it isn’t the main cause of concussion, or we shouldn’t be talking about limiting another tackle while the ban on tackling in school’s/youth rugby is such a hot topic (which is simply ridiculous, I’d like to add).

All I want to ensure is that the chop tackle stays as safe as possible-arms used, and not looking to hit someone’s lower shin bone as their leg is already planted. All it requires is a little tweak in the laws and referees to clamp down on it. Suddenly, we get the safe tackle we want to see practised without the negatives involved.

Much like the controversy of Nash and his penalty-taking style, all it requires is a little tweak.

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David Pocock installing a mono pump at a borehole on his grandfather’s conservancy in Zimbabwe

David Pocock is mostly known for his work on the playing pitch. He was my pick for Player of the Tournament in last year’s Rugby World Cup, and has been widely acclaimed for his talents. Stephen Larkham has also stated (in a documentary based on Pocock) that Australia had the best defence of any team in that competition because “we had David out there who would eventually steal the ball from the opposition”.

But Pocock is not just a rugby player. He is an activist, and he has long been campaigning for human rights and trying to improve the world, bit by bit.

Pocock was once arrested for taking part in a coal-mining protest in New South Wales after he chained himself to some mining equipment. But he did so knowing full well that he may land in some hot water: “You weigh up the cost of it and whether you think the message is the right thing to do,” Pocock said. “With the coal mining protest, I knew there would be backlash. But I knew signing up with those farmers, it was the right thing to do.”

In a statement, the ARU said: “The Australian Rugby Union has issued a formal written warning to David Pocock following his arrest yesterday. While we appreciate David has personal views on a range of matters, we’ve made it clear that we expect his priority to be ensuring he can fulfil his role as a high-performance athlete. The matter is now subject to legal proceedings, and we will now let the legal process take its course.”

Granted, Pocock could be viewed as bringing the game into disrepute, but he wasn’t starting a fight on the street while intoxicated; he was fighting something far greater and was simply expressing his democratic right to protest.

In March of last year, Pocock complained to the referee that a NSW Waratah’s player made a homophobic slur towards a fellow Brumbies player. Jacques Potgieter owned up (credit where credit is due) and was eventually fined $10,000 by the ARU for using homophobic language.

“It certainly blew up a lot more than what I thought it would,” Pocock said. “I honestly didn’t think it would go past an on-field incident.

“One of the funny things about what happened was that it became that I was pushing the incident. [Brumbies captain] Stephen Moore initially raised it, Scott Fardy mentioned it as well. As players, we’re really keen to make a stand and say that homophobia or any sort of discrimination isn’t acceptable. In the heat of battle, for you to dig deep and that’s the worst thing you can come up with, that’s a pretty sad reflection of our culture.”

The back-rower has long been a campaigner for same-sex marriage, and has stated the he will not wed until the laws are changed an inclusive. So I doubt the flak he received would have bothered him very much. However, the idea of shining a light on homophobia in sport was ideal.

“Sport is at its best when it’s challenging society to become more inclusive. The more of those conversations we have, the better. There’s a lot of young players out there struggling with their sexuality and they need to at least have a safe environment to enjoy themselves on the sports-field. It’s been a cultural thing, but I think we’re starting to see a shift and that’s really exciting for me.”

But it doesn’t end there. Pocock, whose family was forced to flee Zimbabwe when he was young, has his own charity set up in his native land named eightytwentyvision.org, which looks to improve maternal care and health, child nutrition, farming, and care for HIV sufferers. This charity is funded not only by donations, but a part of his salary as well.

“It’s pretty dire in Zimbabwe and I’ve always wanted to make a difference.

“When you stay in a rural area in Zimbabwe, you see the reality of how much people are battling in their way of life.

“I visited hospitals and met elders from the villages to start building a bit of a relationship,” Pocock said of his visit to the villages.

“There are demonstration farming plots in the villages where the local farmers are invited to see the benefits of non-traditional methods.

“Seed is planted over a much smaller area so a mother, with AIDS, and her kids can do that whereas getting behind a plough and oxen is unrealistic for them.

“You get to understood what a difference a daily bowl of corn soybean porridge can make to nutrition and learning amongst 4000 kids.”

David Pocock is not your average player. He is so much more. He is a people person, one who genuinely cares for others, regardless of sexual preference or social standing. He stands up for what he believes in, and is not afraid to face the consequences.

When asked if the coal-mining arrest would affect playing international rugby, he replied “If that was going to jeopardise playing for the Wallabies, that’s how it was going to be”, when the majority of others would be nervous to rock the boat.

Pocock has a lot of rugby left to play, and will no doubt captain Australia again someday. But it’s outside rugby where he will make his biggest hits.

Photo credit to The Western Australian