A small New Zealand provincial rugby union is tackling the wellbeing of its rugby community head on in the wake of the current Covid-19 coronavirus crisis.

Horowhenua-Kāpiti Rugby Union chief executive officer Corey Kennett was leading a new programme called NuaHealth, recognising the struggles that valued members of their rugby fraternity might have in their day-to-day lives.

Kennett said any struggle was amplified by the outbreak of Covid-19 and he wanted to thrust NuaHealth into the spotlight to show that the governing body genuinely cared for the wellbeing of the rugby community.

"The NuaHealth initiative is something that we're very proud we can offer to the rugby community," he said.

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"Achieving our ultimate goal of better overall health for our rugby community is what drives our commitment to this initiative."

Levin Old Boys president Phil Benefield (left) and Corey Kennett.
Levin Old Boys president Phil Benefield (left) and Corey Kennett.

Kennett said the NuaHealth programme was rolled out last year but "given the current climate around Covid-19 and the associated lockdown" it was important to make every within aware of the initiative.

He said it was modelled using reference to the strong Pasifika presence within HKRU and "utilising the strong Pasifika Fale as our inspiration resonates very well with rugby".

"The NuaHealth model looks at the major component being its foundation which is the overall health of our rugby community," he said.

NuaHealth focused on five key areas: Concussion care, mental health, general healthcare, emergency healthcare and injury prevention, which were called pou (poles or support).

"The five pou have been identified as the key areas that we feel are the most important to the health of our rugby community. The final cap is the roof which is NuaHealth that encompasses all the Fale," he said.

Kennett said one of the most important areas of focus for NuaHealth is the mental health pou.

"There has been an increased awareness in this space, one which is needed given the statistics around suicide and other mental health issues amongst today's society," he said.

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Kennett said concussion care has been a prominent part of rugby safety over the past few years. Continued education and ensuring that players follow guidelines in their return to rugby is a big part of our players keeping themselves safe.

HKRFU provided support for members to learn and upskill around injury prevention through the annual RugbySmart and Small Blacks courses, along with strapping and first aid courses.

NuaHealth used rugby to help promote general health and other services available in the community.

It also required clubs to have a child protection policy, an area which comes under the general health pou.

In 2017, HKRFU was proactive in getting a defibrillator for its member clubs and assisted in each club formulating their own Health and Safety plan.

Kennett said anyone could find more information about NuaHealth and each of the five pou on the HKRFU website www.hkrfu.co.nz.