RFL president Tony Adams has written about how he “identifies” with rugby league players who are in need of help.
In an exclusive column for The Yorkshire Post, ahead of hosting the RFL President’s Ball in Leeds this evening, the former Arsenal and England captain has expressed his admiration of those he has come across in the first six months of his tenure.
Adams battled addictions during his own playing career which led to him setting up the mental health charity Sporting Chance.
It has helped rugby league players in similar situations and he wrote: “The players are working-class boys – I’m generalising a bit, but they’re authentic and tough.
“A lot have had trauma, addiction – issues that affect their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. They learn it’s ok to cry. It’s beautiful to see them reborn. That’s why when I’m asked about Rugby League, I will sing its praises – and I hope that’s why I’ve been a decent fit as President. And I’m focused on the season ahead.”
He said: “When I was at Wembley for the Challenge Cup Final, or when I’m up here for the President’s Ball – it’s a genuine relationship I have with the sport through the players I respect and admire.
“You’ve seen the respect Rugby League players have from other sports with the reaction there’s been since it was announced that Rob Burrow had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
“And the way Rugby League people have rallied around Rob, with all the fund-raising and the sell-out for this game between Leeds and Bradford at the weekend, is another example of why as a sport, it has so much to admire.
“That’s why I’m delighted and honoured to be up in Leeds this weekend for the President’s Ball, and why I’m looking forward to doing all I can in the next six months of my Presidency, before I hand on to Clare Balding in the summer.”