World Rugby, in conjunction with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), held an International Federation Focus Day on 10 October at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in which players took part in workshops on integrity, Keep Rugby Clean and injury prevention and injury management.
These three issues are central to World Rugby’s ethos, and injury prevention and injury management is part of the wider player welfare directives.
Attending the workshop, in which teams were split to ensure that presentations were in their languages, were former Argentina icon Juan Martín Hernandez and IOC Athlete Role Models Alejandra Betancur and Franco Sábato, both rugby Olympians at Rio 2016.
“It was a great day in which we learned about Keep Rugby Clean and why we should avoid doping, about integrity and about injury prevention and treatment,” said Argentina wing Marcos Moneta. “These are issues that it is very important to know now as we move forward in our careers. One thing is clear, we are responsible for our acts.”
Chaima Arbi, Tunisia captain and already a senior player for her country, was also pleased with the presentations.
“Sport is my life because it teaches me many things like respect, discipline and today I learnt how to be responsible for myself, my club and my national team.”
Former sevens stalwart and national coach in his native South Africa, Marius Schoeman is well aware of the importance of the three issues that were presented to the young players.
“The education sessions during Focus Day are very important, especially Keep Rugby Clean as these players are at the start of their professional careers and you can never educate too little,” he said. “We have to reemphasise we want to keep rugby a clean and fair sport for all to play.”
Finally, Hernández, whose sister is a three-time Olympic medallist in field hockey, showed his joy at having the Youth Olympic Games in his hometown.
“It is a great opportunity to showcase rugby as it is great sport. I will be attending with my children and really look forward to it.”
Regarding to the Focus Day, he added: “Seeing the young Olympians was a joy. They seemed keen to learn about integrity, injury prevention and management and how to Keep Rugby Clean.”