Easts & Sunnybank playing for much more than competition points in Rick Tyrrell Cup

By Finn Morton

This Saturday’s fixture between Easts and Sunnybank will again by played in the honour of Rick Tyrrell as the clubs continue to raise awareness for mens mental health by competing for the Rick Tyrrell Cup.

Rick Tyrrell was a three-time Queensland Reds representative and a stalwart son of both Easts and Sunnybank.

Following a battle with mental illness, Rick passed away at the age of 39. But the charity Rugby Unite is looking to honour his legacy by increasing awareness of mental health.

Easts General Manager Michael Lucas appreciates the importance of the initiative that Rugby Unite promotes within the Rugby environment.

While the “prize” is the Cup, Lucas says this week’s fixture is about much more than rugby.

“Rick Tyrrell played Colts at Sunnybank but then played all his senior grade Rugby at Easts. He won premierships at both clubs, and also coached at Easts.

“It started through some mates of Ricks, notably Darren Gaffney, Johan Johnson and Michael Chettle. They wanted to do something to honour Ricks memory and they thought what better than a game of footy between the two clubs that he played for.

“On the back of that, the Rugby Unite charity which is all about raising awareness around mental health in athletes in particular, was born. The day is really all about playing for the Rick Tyrrell Cup and raising awareness for Rugby Unite as well.

“The guys from Rugby Unite will come out to our club, and they traditionally meet off-site, as well as Ricks old mates. Then they’ll come to the club and watch the game together.”

Rugby Unite addressed both teams on Thursday evening in an extended effort to raise awareness of mental health issues within their respective squads.

Lucas highlighted the importance of the visit as he acknowledged that there was “no doubt” that players within the club experienced these problems.

“We had the guys [Rugby Unite] down last night, addressing the whole playing group about the initiatives around mental health that Rugby Unite are hoping to introduce in the next twelve months.

“That involves running education courses at all the Premier Grade clubs.

“For us as a club it’s important because we understand that with a playing base as large as ours, there is statistically no doubt that there are players within our group that may or may not be struggling with mental health issues.

“We want them to know that there are people that they can talk to within our club if they have to.”

If you or anybody else you know is struggling with mental health issues, please contract Lifeline on 13 11 14.