Help a Mate

You’d always ask a mate how they were feeling if they’d pulled a muscle or were out for a couple of weeks with a broken rib. Asking how they’re feeling if they seem stressed or down is exactly the same.

For a lot of people it can be hard to talk about how they’re feeling and even harder to ask for help. There can be worries about judgement, feeling embarrassed or just not being sure what to say. Playing rugby can also bring with it some ideas about how you should act or behave. This means that asking someone how they are or talking about how they feel is sometimes sidestepped.

As a mate it might need to be you who takes the lead in asking how they’re doing and helping them get support if they need it.

Checking if a mate is ok

It may seem simple, but knowing how to check if someone is ok is a really important part of being a good mate. These three points and the information below are a good place to start.

Keep an eye out

Changes can be small, but you might start to notice differences in the way your mate acts.

They might start to miss trainings or seem quieter than usual. Perhaps their mood changes all the time or they often seem down.

If you notice changes in a mate, don’t be afraid to ask how they are and if they’re ok.


Most of the time people have the answers to their own questions. Sometimes they just need someone to listen to how they’re feeling and to bounce ideas off.

Even if you don’t fully understand what they’re feeling, acknowledging what they’re going through and letting them know you’re there to listen is a great help.

Start a conversation

Lots of people worry about saying the wrong thing, but don’t be.

You can even acknowledge that you’re not sure what to say but let them know that you’re there to help. Have a look below for some helpful tips for starting a conversation.

Tips for having a conversation

Knowing how to start a conversation when you’re worried about a mate can be tough. The tips below are a good place to start to help make having a conversation easier for both of you:

  • Pick a place that is quiet to chat
  • Make sure you have the time set aside if they do want to talk
  • Listen hard to what they’re saying, save any advice for later
  • Show they have your full attention by not fiddling with your phone or doing other things
  • Try asking open-ended questions such as “How are you feeling?”, “What makes you think that?”, “Can you describe that a little more?”

The next step is to support them to get help if they need it. Have a look below for information on how to do that. 

Support them to get help

If you or your friend think they need help with how they’re feeling, talk to them about the possibility of asking for help. You could suggest they talk to a family member, a coach, their GP or someone they trust.

They could also look at the list of support people we have on the site who they can contact if they feel uncomfortable talking to someone they know. See that list here.

If the first person doesn’t work, then help them to find another. You can find a lot of different information and helpful tips on this website that will make things a little easier for them, as well as helping you understand more too.

Worried about your partner, child or a player?

Whether you’re a partner, parent, coach or someone who spends time around rugby and those who play, it can be challenging to know how best to support the person you care about.

Even though you might be able to see when things are going wrong it can be difficult to start a conversation, especially if you’re not sure how they’ll react.

Some of the tips on this website can be extremely useful. If you would like to know more about some of the ways you can offer support, have a look at some of the information for parents, coaches and partners.