Drinks Education for Premier Rugby Players and Staff

Last week we announced the results of a new corporate social responsibility programme for Premier Rugby’s players and management staff about alcohol and its effects on the body and behaviour. The programme has made PRL players and staff more aware of the choices they make when drinking, and was run with Diageo, the premium drinks company. Here’s the press release:

RUGBY PLAYERS TACKLED ON ALCOHOL IN FIRST EVER LEAGUE-WIDE INITIATIVE
- Premier Rugby and Diageo announce positive results of attitudes to alcohol programme -

Thursday 3rd December 2009: Recognising the need to provide alcohol information to players, Premier Rugby and Diageo have joined forces to develop and deliver an innovative attitudes to alcohol programme to every player and manager in the Guinness Premiership, achieving extremely positive results.

The programme has been designed to inform participants about alcohol and its effects on the body and behaviour, making them more aware of the choices they make when drinking.

Based on the DrinkiQ programme created by premium drinks company, Diageo, the programme was tailored by Premier Rugby specifically to connect with rugby players around scenarios and issues that are directly relevant to their health, career and life as a professional athlete.

All 12 Guinness Premiership clubs – 716 players and management in total (511 players and 205 members of management) – have now attended sessions run during the last two months and the response has been overwhelmingly positive to this first ever league-wide alcohol programme:

  • 94% of players and 97% of management said they learnt something from the session .
  • 91% of players and 97% of management would recommend the training to other players.
  • 82% of players and 87% of management believed that the programme had been very good or excellent.

Martin Corry, former Leicester Tigers and England captain, who was involved in developing the programme to meet the needs of professional rugby players in the UK, said: “The programme has really opened the eyes of the rugby world to the effects of alcohol on the body and the impact of drinking too much on your performance. These are the sorts of issues that resonate with the players, so we are really speaking to them in their world to encourage them to assess their attitudes to alcohol. Before taking part in the programme, many players didn’t realise that overdoing it on a night out can impair your performance the next day and increase the risk of injury – a major consideration in a competitive sport.”

Ugo Monye of Harlequins and England said, “I enjoyed the session we had here at Harlequins and found it hugely educational and thought-provoking. As a professional athlete it’s essential to be aware what kind of effects alcohol can have on the body.”

Gerry Sutcliffe, Minister for Sport at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport added,

“I applaud Premier Rugby’s moves to talk to players about responsible drinking and the impact that alcohol abuse could have on their health and professional careers.  I am pleased that Premier Rugby, the Rugby Players’ Association and the clubs are working closely together on this and that coaches and managers are involved, who are important in imbedding the right type of culture in clubs.”

Phil Winstanley, Rugby Director at Premier Rugby said, “As employers, the clubs recognise the importance of their athletes being properly informed on the effects of alcohol on the body. We looked into using the DrinkiQ programme developed by Diageo and tailored it specifically for rugby players. I’d like to thank Diageo for their support. We’re extremely pleased with the results.”

During the sessions, players and managers gain a greater understanding of the effect of alcohol on the body and the potential dangers of misuse both from a health perspective and from the perspective of a professional athlete. The players are encouraged to discuss their personal experiences of alcohol in a safe environment and are given rugby specific scenarios in breakout groups, identifying how behaviour can deteriorate with irresponsible drinking but also looking at strategies to ensure that they approach their nights out in a responsible manner.

Ron Ainsbury, who developed the DRINKiQ programme for Diageo said: “DRINKiQ was designed to provide our 20,000 employees with information to make the right decisions about drinking so that they can enjoy alcohol responsibly. Sportsmen and women are important role models in today’s society so it’s great to see Premiership rugby teams responding so well to the sessions. I hope that other sporting associations will follow Premier Rugby’s example in recognising the importance of ensuring their players are aware of the facts about alcohol and its effects.”

This weekend (5th and 6th December) fans at all Guinness Premiership matches will also be reminded to drink responsibly as part of the Guinness Premiership’s Responsible Drinking Weekend and Diageo’s ‘bite to eat’ programme. A variety of activities will be happening at matches including giving free pies to supporters to highlight the importance of eating between drinks and inviting fans to take part in a ‘co-ordination challenge’ to bring the impact of excessive drinking to life. They will also be offered a free bottle of water after the game to encourage them to drink water between alcoholic drinks.