Rhys McNaughton during his time playing for Southern Cross University in Far North Coast Rugby Union. He went on to play two seasons with Wollongbar-Alstonville before he died last year.
Rhys McNaughton during his time playing for Southern Cross University in Far North Coast Rugby Union. He went on to play two seasons with Wollongbar-Alstonville before he died last year. Stuart Turner

Rugby club tackles mental health after death of player

WOLLONGBAR-Alstonville rugby union club is doing its part to tackle mental health after the death of popular teammate Rhys McNaughton.

McNaughton took his own life in late October just one month after his side went through the Far North Coast Rugby Union season undefeated.

The club did not train Tuesday night and instead held a mental health information session with FSG Australia who operate as a support organisation.

"It has been tough for some of the guys since then and everyone has been affected in their own way," captain-coach Bill Johnston said.

"I contacted the organisation a few weeks back and we wanted to have a night where we could chat and get a few things out in the open.

"They basically talked to us about anxiety, depression and what help there is in the region.

"It's a pretty important thing for young guys in sport because a lot of this stuff can get swept under the rug so it was great to get together and talk about it."

The Casino Bulls have also come on board with the game against Wollongbar at Albert Park, Casino tomorrow a fundraiser for the Beyoundblue organisation.

The Pioneers will also contest the inaugural Rhys McNaughton Shield when they host Southern Cross University at Lyle Park on July 16.

McNaughton originally played for the Gold Rats before switching over to the Pioneers in 2014.

The Rats also have another memorial game this weekend against Bangalow at Maurie Ryan Oval, Lismore.

It will be played in honour of club stalwart Maurie Ryan who died three years ago after a long-term illness.



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