GBWR players join forces to highlight the importance of mental health

GBWR players - including current and former GB athletes - Aaron Phipps, Ollie Mangion, George Rogers, Dave Ross, Imogen Steele, and Kylie Grimes joined players from Premiership Rugby sides Harlequins and Saracens and former England footballer Jermaine Jenas to highlight the positive impact sport can have on mental health.

The wheelchair rugby players headed to London's Aspire National Training Centre, where they taught Jenas and other rugby union players, including GBWR Ambassador Shaunagh Brown, Bryony Cleall, Lennox Anyanwu, Louis Lynagh (Harlequins), Hugh Tizzard, Kelsey Clifford, and Louise McMillan (Saracens), a thing or two about wheelchair rugby, before taking time out to discuss the relationship between sport and mental health. 

GBWR announced a three-year partnership with to support the continued growth of the sport in 2023. Harlequins and Saracens are also on the list, while Jermaine Jenas is a Supports Ambassador. Led by Jermaine, our players revealed how wheelchair rugby has brought many benefits, including renewed confidence and reduced anxiety, while the rugby union players shared their personal stories about the positive relationship between sport and mental health. 

Studies show that regular physical activity reduces the risk of depression and dementia in adults by up to 30%, while being active has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress, combat low mood, and boost self-esteem.  In addition, disabled people are almost twice as likely to be physically inactive (43%) as those without a disability, making conversations like those at Aspire all the more important. 

Jason Brisbane, CEO of Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby, said: "We are thrilled to be raising the profile of wheelchair rugby and disability sport in general and highlighting the positive impact sport can have on mental health. We're grateful for the support of Supports ambassador, Jermaine Jenas, and Harlequins player and GBWR ambassador, Shaunagh Brown, who are helping to bring wheelchair rugby to a wider audience. 

"We are also delighted to be working with two of Supports' existing rugby union partners, Harlequins and Saracens - both of whom have their own wheelchair rugby teams - to further strengthen the relationship between the two sports and raise awareness within the rugby family," he added 

Jermaine Jenas, Supports Ambassador, said: “Wheelchair rugby has gone from strength to strength in Great Britain, with our national team winning gold for the first time at the Tokyo Paralympics. Since then, France have won the European Championship and will be hosting the Paralympics next year, so it's likely to be a fierce battle between us and them in Paris.   

"Having played my first game with the Great Britain wheelchair rugby team, I can't wait to see them in action. The game is all about high stakes and big hits, which is really entertaining - although I'm a bit sore now! I'm proud to be part of this campaign to promote the sport."   

The event marked one year until the Paralympics and is part of a wider campaign to raise the profile of the sport. GBWR and Supports will continue to work together to promote wheelchair rugby - look out for further announcements on GBWR's social channels.