INJURY can often mean isolation from sport, but not so for a South Somerset rugby player who has opened up about her story for Mental Health Awareness Week.

Nina Dawe, now with Crewkerne Rugby Club, sustained a knee injury that ruled her out of her final season with Bath Spa University RFC during her studying days.

For three months, she couldn’t train or exercise, with the physical setback coupled with mental difficulties of extra stress and less support.

But Nina’s team-mates ensured she wasn’t alone, encouraging her to attend every session to give her an active role with the team, helping to coach while she was unable to play.

“This injury took a massive toll on all aspects of my health, as I used and relied on rugby and exercise to stay fit and as an outlet for stress and anxiety,” she explained.

“Suddenly my main coping mechanisms had been taken away from me and I could feel my mental health starting to decline.

“My team-mates were the only people who could fully understand the struggle of being ruled out injured, and being able to seek advice from people who had been in my position really prevented an isolating feeling that could have taken hold.

“Knowing that I still had that community to support me, despite not playing week on week, helped immensely in my physical and mental recovery from injury.

“When I was given the all clear to play again I had a newfound, reignited passion for rugby, and I value each and every training session, as I know how tough my mental health was to navigate when it was no longer an option.”

Many people will experience a mental health problem in their lives, which is why the RFU and Simplyhealth, as healthcare partner to England Rugby and the official lead partner for the RugbySafe player welfare programme, have developed a dedicated mental health resource for the community game.

The aim is to provide additional assistance for rugby clubs which are so often support hubs for their local communities.

The new guide, researched and prepared by the Mental Health Foundation, provides advice and guidance to help rugby communities recognise symptoms of poor mental health and direct members towards professionals if needed.

The new resource complements a series of mental health question and answer sessions for players and volunteers during lockdown.

As they did for Nina, rugby clubs across the country are also mindful of the part they play in members’ lives and are keen to help when they face mental challenges.

A rugby club provides both a sporting and social life, offers physical and mental wellbeing and can also be the support that people need when they are feeling at their lowest.

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said: “We often talk of the rugby family, and the best families are always willing to listen and to help in challenging times.

“We are a team sport and a sporting community, and I am most grateful to all of our clubs who are working to improve the mental wellbeing of their players and members, and keep those in the rugby family safe.”

To download England Rugby and Simplyhealth’s mental health resource, or to find out more about the RugbySafe player welfare programme, visit