The first charity for injured rugby players began as SPIRE (Support Paraplegics in Rugby Enterprise). SPIRE was created by Ian Beer who at the time was President of the RFU. The aim was to support catastrophically injured players in any way possible. Ian and the board of Trustees set about contacting every player who had suffered a rugby injury which had resulted in some form of paralysis to offer them support.
Brought a review of how the RFU and SPIRE could work together to better support catastrophically injured players, and this year saw the formation of a new charity called the RFU Injured Players Foundation. A board of Trustees was put in place made-up of former SPIRE Trustees and new individuals appointed by the RFU who had expertise in many sectors including spinal rehabilitation. This new approach enabled the charity to respond much more quickly to reports of serious injuries and provide assistance from the moment the RFU was notified of an injury. The RFU committed to supporting the charity with the use of its offices, and a substantial donation each year.
We still continue to support our catastrophically injured players as well as investing in valuable research to expand our knowledge on how injuries occur, how they can be prevented and how we can help rehabilitate injured players. Today, we offer immediate and lifelong support to players who sustain a catastrophic spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury at all levels of the game, and donate approximately £1,000,000 per year to improving their independence. The IPF still receives the RFU’s support but now reaches out to the whole rugby family to increase the funds and help available to the rugby community.