Professional rugby players and staff have worked together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, the coronavirus pandemic has hurt many people in several different ways. This includes rugby players and teams that have faced uncertainty.
However, there have been some players and organizations that have risen to the occasion and are stepping up. Many of these stories took place during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic but nevertheless showed the teamwork the sports players and staff have shown in both rugby codes.
Ways rugby players are helping in the Coronavirus pandemic
Jon Wilkin, who last played for the Toronto Wolfpack, has been helping supply and deliver bread to NHS (National Health Service) workers, the health service of the United Kingdom, according to Sky Sports Rugby League. This is part of the “Feed the Heroes” campaign. Mark Flanagan of the Salford Red Devils’ has also helped out. For example, Wilkin talked about helping the frontline workers in the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We’re just trying to do what we can to help people and keep the business alive after building it up for six years.”
Mark Flanagan and Jon Wilkin are keeping one element of their business open and providing help for NHS and keyworkers during the lockdownhttps://t.co/rl4fxiXIvo
— Gareth Walker (@garethwalker) April 23, 2020
Mike Cooper of the Warrington Wolves is also helping source PPE for care workers in the town. He described the situation in the NHS as follows:
“All over the NHS I’m hearing horror stories of what life is like,” Cooper said. “I guess you don’t realise unless you’re in hospital or you’ve got friends and family in hospitals what those guys on the frontline are dealing with.”
There have unfortunately been a significant number of deaths due to covid, including health care workers. According to Wigan Today, nurse and former Wigan rugby player Andy Collier died of COVID-19 in April. It is tragic but it shows the commitment and the bravery of frontline workers that everyone should applaud.
Women’s Rugby League
There are also others helping in the COVID-19 pandemic. Bradford Bulls ladies captain and a mother of a girl, Amy Hardcastle, for example, is helping on the frontlines as an accident and emergency healthcare assistant.
According to Jenna Brooks of Sky Sports, in April, Hardcastle was working extremely hard. This is how she described the situation in England:
“You could get a text message the night before, saying ‘can anyone come in due to sickness?’ You just have to make sure you’re available.”
— amy hardcastle (@hardcastle03) March 27, 2020
Rugby Union – players assisting in Covid battle
Back in March, it was reported by Alec Finn for MailOnline that Italian flanker Maxime Mbanda was working on the frontlines. In March, he worked as an ambulance driver trying to save lives during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I started eight days ago, without a day’s break and with shifts of 12 or 13 hours. But faced with what I see in the infectious disease rooms, I tell myself that I can’t be tired.”
One of his responsibilities was helping the elderly in Zebre. In March, Zebre was one of the worst-hit areas of the country. So Mbanda has seen first-hand the devastation COVID-19 has caused in Italy. This is what he had to say about the pandemic:
“If people saw what I see in the hospitals, there wouldn’t be a queue in front of the supermarkets anymore,’ he said. ‘They would think two, three or four times before leaving home, even to go running.”
— #rugbyengland (@RugbyEng) October 29, 2020
New Zealand Rugby Union
The All Blacks are offering many of their services to help fight COVID-19 in New Zealand. Ngarohi McGarvey-Black has been volunteering at a COVID-19 community testing station in Ruatoki. This is according to Super Rugby.
“My uncle is one of the Kiwi leaders and he asked me to help out, it was a no-brainer to be honest. People have been working so hard to protect our community during this lockdown, I wanted to be able to give those people a bit of a rest.”
Then there is former All Black & Crusader Wyatt Crockett who worked as a delivery boy during the COVID-19 lockdown in April. This included doing a pizza delivery for the Nelson Hospital COVID-19 ward.
The Village Trust was founded by All Blacks Sevens Sir Michael Jones. It has distributed thousands of food parcels throughout the lockdown. Michael’s son Niko and Eroni Clarke’s son Caleb have been working in the foodbank’s distribution hub in Avondale, packing the food parcels.
Lastly, Blues coach Leon Macdonald, captain Patrick Tuipulotu, and Beauden Barrett delivered parcels to families around Auckland.
Catch our latest video on Facebook and YouTube to catch @PattyTuipulotu, @beaudenbarrett and Blues legends Michael Jones and Eroni Clarke giving back to those in the Blues region most in need 💙#StaySocial #WhateverItTakes #BluesAllDay pic.twitter.com/RX2OUNN5QR
— The Blues (@BluesRugbyTeam) April 24, 2020
South Africa rugby players helping the Community
The Kolisi Foundation is run by South African captain Siya Kolisi and Rachel Kolisi. According to the Kolosi Foundation website, they provide assistance and opportunities for South Africans who are vulnerable and support disadvantaged communities in South Africa.
Like the “All Blacks,” the “Springboks” have also played a part in helping others during the pandemic. The defending Rugby World Cup champions are helping those who are facing hunger in South Africa according to the Springboks website. One way was by visiting the Food Forward SA (charity) facility in Epping as part of SA Rugby’s #StrongerTogether for R32-12 Campaign.
The other charity that will benefit is Gift of the Givers. This is where players give up some of their most prized possessions from the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. Furthermore, the second way to help Gift of the Givers is to get the raffle tickets sold for R32-12. There was also a prize of the Webb Ellis Cup for the school that sold the most raffle tickets.
Malcolm Marx and Tendai Mtawarira took the Webb Ellis Cup to St John’s College on Wednesday, after the school sold the most raffle tickets in the #StrongerTogether R32-12 schools’ fundraising campaign earlier this year.https://t.co/gu5e3KTvPf pic.twitter.com/ferTz80gV1
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) October 7, 2020
Many players and staff from the Springboks are helping out like Nienaber and Kolisi. This is what Kolisi said about the cause:
“I know how much of a difference any bit of help can make. You can donate a small item to any charity that is raising money or buy a ticket to help our project, and it will make a difference because it takes the pressure off people who are struggling to survive.”
The campaign was built around the score in the Rugby World Cup Final in November, where the Springboks defeated England 32-12.
The 2019 champions are not the only ones assisting in the pandemic. According to Online Editors of Rugby 365, South African players who won the World Cup in 1995 and 2007, are also volunteering their services. This included Elton Jantjies and Trebor Nyakane, who helped out in the pandemic.
All of them were shopping and packing food packages for delivery as part of the South Africa Rugby Legends Association. Finally, South Africa Rugby has partnered with South Africa’s largest food redistribution agency, Food Forwards SA, and disaster relief efforts, Gift of the Givers, according to News 24.
“Hunger has become a greater challenge than Covid-19. Our team witness the queues, the anxiety of uncertainty, of not knowing whether you are a fortunate recipient of this dignity restoring food aid, an R350 package that stands between you and starvation.”
Women’s Rugby Union
Claire McLaughlin is an established Ireland international who has represented her country on six occasions according to Oliver Roberts of Give Me Sport. Instead of tending to her ankle injury, she has been completing a week’s work in the Accident and Emergency Department at Ulster Hospital. According to Irish Rugby of BBC, the time she spent playing rugby has helped her as a medical professional:
“There are certain things that medical school can’t teach you. Leadership, communication and team work are all things that rugby has massively helped me to develop.”
French captain, Gaelle Hermit, and her teammates Agatha Sochat and Camille Boudaud also assisted in the pandemic. In fact, Boudaud had helped make protective masks for patients and the public.
According to Super Rugby in April, Jackie Patea-Fereti of the New Zealand Black Ferns aided the Hunt Valley community in the shutdown. This includes being a soundboard for people to talk and going to supermarkets and groceries. Lastly, Patea-Fereti and her husband have been providing support for those in need. They have done this by offering services to the Student Volunteer Army.
Claire McLaughlin: Ireland rugby player among NHS heroes in coronavirus battle https://t.co/yZC3nzcyk5
— Naijacorpers (@9jaCorpers) April 3, 2020
Rugby players and staff helping out in the COVID-19 pandemic
This is just a snippet of the rugby players and staff helping out in the COVID-19 pandemic. There are several others doing selfless work behind the scenes to help fight COVID-19.
As seen above, it can range from making protection masks to being on the frontlines as a nurse. It is also a lesson to people currently living during this pandemic that there is more than one way to help those in need.
These acts of kindness should never be forgotten, especially those working on the frontlines. Furthermore, these acts of kindness should be remembered forever. Another example would be the Canada Rugby Union team, who selflessly helped out with the Japanese typhoon in the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Following the cancellation of their match in Kamaishi, @RugbyCanada players headed out to help with recovery efforts, showing the true values of the game.
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 13, 2019
The compassion shown by rugby players and staff from several different countries shows that everyone is connected. Even if everyone supports different teams in different countries, when it comes to the health crisis, everyone has shared their responsibility of helping those most in need.
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images