The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and Pieta House, today (2nd Nov), launched a new club-focused mental fitness initiative, ‘Mind Ur Buddy’, which will educate and equip club members to spot the signs when someone is in suicidal crisis.  The scheme will train nominated club members to support their peers in overcoming personal issues with the overall aim of reducing the potential for self-harm and suicide.

The initiative will provide clubs with a direct link to Pieta House services with designated members being the point of contact between a person in distress and Pieta House.

Piloted in 12 clubs during the 2013/14 season the programme with see 70 clubs offered the opportunity to undertake Pieta House training workshops during the 2014/15 season, with every club having the opportunity to undertake the training and support service by the end of 2017.

In its simplest form the programme will deliver structure, training and help for those people who are already the ‘go-to’ person in their clubs.  Clubs will identify a number of ‘Buddies’, across all age groups, who will undertake Pieta House training, to provide them with the confidence to assist those who are experiencing issues which could be impacting their mental health and wellbeing.


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Launching the initiative Head Coach, Joe Schmidt, said:

“Having come from a club background I know the support that club members provide each other.  It is fantastic that Pieta House and the IRFU have developed a programme that can bring a little more confidence to the leaders or Buddies that people, of all ages, look up to and confide in.”

Ireland International and Pieta House Ambassador, Jack McGrath, said:

“Looking out for each other is the ethos of team sports and I am delighted to see the IRFU and Pieta House working together to offer a support service to clubs around the country.  Small things make a big difference and everyone in the community, not just in the club, can benefit from a programme where we all take a little time to make sure everyone is okay.”

Former Muster and Ireland international David Corkery, who recently spoke about mental health challenges, said:

“Support structures within clubs have always been strong and the new programme should help more people experiencing difficulty to get the help and support that they need.  I know that one simple phone call, an arm around the shoulder or a word in confidence with someone you admire and respect can make the world of difference.”

Women’s International Niamh Briggs, said:

“I am delighted to be part of this project as if it can help even one person to get a little extra help in a time of need then it will have been a huge success.  Rugby is an important outlet and one that helps to remove the stresses of day-to-day life, so within a club we can often be more honest and comfortable talking to people when we need a dig out.  The Pieta House programme will help ensure that if there is a person that needs a helping hand that someone is there to help them get the support they need.”

Pieta House Founder Joan Freeman said,

“Just like a team, together we are stronger.  We are delighted to work with the IRFU’s clubs to offer a support service directly to those who are already fulfilling a role as a ‘go-to’ person within their club.  Some of the most vulnerable people are young men and these are our sons, brothers and friends playing sports like rugby.  Working with clubs we hope to equip people with the services they need to help those who are experiencing personal issues which could result in self-harm or suicidal crisis.”

For more information on the Mind Ur Buddy programme visit

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