THE UK’s first LGBT Touch Rugby League team, the Canalsiders, took to the pitch at half-time during Thursday's First Utility Super League encounter between Warrington Wolves and Huddersfield Giants to raise awareness of the State of Mind campaign.
The Canalsiders challenged the State of Mind Touch Rugby League Allstars team to a 15-minute match in front of the Warrington crowd at The Halliwell Jones Stadium.
The campaign was initiated in 2011 following the death of former Great Britain player Terry Newton and aims to improve the mental health, wellbeing and working life of Rugby League players and communities.
Round 25 of the First Utility Super League has been dedicated to the mental health initiative.
Co-Founder of the Canalsiders, Martin Owens said: “It was awesome on there, the guys seemed to have a great time. It finished 1-1 so we need a re-match to settle the score!
“Everybody needs support at some point in their lives, I’ve gone through depression and it can be hard to admit you need help but having State of Mind in the sport is absolutely amazing.
"It’s good to remember that it’s also about players at an amateur level and keeping their minds healthy.”
Both teams take part in Play Touch Rugby League programmes, an initiative set up to encourage more people into the game.
Play Touch Rugby League Manager Dan Parkinson said: “It was great to be able to showcase our sport at halftime, especially for such an incredible charity.
"We have programmes running across the country with the aim to create fun, informal and sociable environments for people to enjoy the sport in.”
Martin Owens is an advocate of the touch game: “It’s fantastic, it gives you such a buzz, it’s always a great atmosphere, good fun and touch rugby can be quicker than full contact!
"What people don’t know is that you can actually burn more calories playing touch than you can in the gym – so get out there and give it a go!”
To find your nearest Play Touch Rugby League visit: www.playtouchrugbyleague.co.uk For more information on State of Mind visit: www.stateofmindrugby.com