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New rugby code, new thinking

Jane Ross of Whaiora and Film Talks, with WBRU’s Cameron Hayton at The Screening Room in Masterton, sitting behind WBRU’s Tony Hargood and Kath Tomlinson, of Tū Ora Compass Health. PHOTO/BEAU ELTON

Lisa Urbani

The Wairarapa-Bush Rugby Union has revised its code of conduct in an effort to promote positive changes to drinking habits and side-line behaviour that are embedded in sporting culture.

WBRU is launching its new guidelines, which focuses on the rugby community’s well-being, with two screenings of a New Zealand documentary, The Ground We Won.

In partnership with Tū Ora Compass Health, WBRU want to encourage low risk and responsible drinking, and look at issues associated with alcohol-related harm in Wairarapa, including how it affects families.

WBRU chief executive Tony Hargood said it was a culture “truly embedded in our sporting history”, but it was “time to reflect and move forward”.

“Rather than a set of rules, the code is designed to support clubs to be safe, supportive and successful environments for teams, players, administrators and wider communities.

“Rugby is such an important part of the Wairarapa DNA. 2500 players, another 300 coaches and managers.

“With every player there are grandparents and parents.

“In all, each week, over 5000 people are connected to our rugby clubs and colleges,” Hargood said.

The Ground We Won is set in the small farming community of Reporoa, in Waikato.

The documentary was shot over a year, and took another year to edit.

The filmmakers, Christopher Pryor and Miriam Smith, became part of the community during filming, and followed a season in the life of the local rugby club.

Nothing was scripted and it ended up being “real and relatable”, as described by Jane Ross, the founding director of Film Talks, and communications and marketing co-ordinator at Whaiora.

“It is not inhibited, and reveals a particular truth about groups of men playing rugby in rural New Zealand, which resonates with us, and lends itself to discussion.”

It is hoped that through this documentary, the audience will be encouraged to consider their own drinking habits.

Hargood wants it to “continue the conversation and increase our awareness”, and is pleased it has been endorsed by the New Zealand Rugby Union and their Respect and Responsibility program called the ‘Rugby Way’.

Tū Ora Compass Health is behind the What About You? campaign which promotes safe drinking and alcohol awareness.

The campaign was based on a research project led by a number of concerned health and wellness providers, backed by some organisations such as the police and ACC, and the Wairarapa Road Safety Council.

It found there was still a high proportion of people in NZ with harmful alcohol consumption habits and binge drinking tendencies.

Senior health adviser at Tū Ora Compass Health Kathryn Tomlinson, said through the What About You? campaign, their aim was “to support and improve people’s lives, without judgement”.

“The campaign is primarily about safe alcohol use and its link to well-being.

“It covers off things such as host responsibility, rules around supply of alcohol to under-18s, looking after your mates on a night out, role modelling safe drinking to younger people, and making it okay for people to not drink if they choose.”

She said the aim was to highlight mental wellness and give people the opportunity to think about what they might want to change.

“We are not anti-drinking. What we are supporting is responsible drinking and to also let it be okay for those choosing not to drink.”

The Ground We Won will be screened this week in Masterton and Martinborough.

They will be attended by members of the WBRU and a representative from the NZ Rugby Union, as well as key players in Wairarapa health and wellness organisations.

Members of the public can watch the documentary online at https://thegroundwewon.com/

Contacts for Wairarapa and national alcohol and mental health support services are available from the What About You? website: http://www.whataboutu.co.nz/

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