Oxford have marked Mental Health Week by signing up to a national campaign aimed at providing training on the subject.

#21by21 aims to provide 21,000 community sport coaches and volunteers with mental health awareness sessions by 2021.

The first at the club to volunteer was chairman John Brodley.

Saskya Huggins, Oxford’s first aid co-ordinator said: “With one in four people in the UK experiencing a mental health problem, we wanted to ensure our coaches and first aiders can help support our players, emotionally as well as physically.”

As part of Mental Health Week, charity Mind have made their online training for sports clubs available for free until the end of August.

The course is designed to help coaches better understand and support people living with mental health problems, and create a positive environment.

Senior player Gareth Wyatt was among the first to undertake the training for Oxford.

He said: “I wanted to broaden my knowledge on mental health and the involvement of sport.

“Training means I can be there for people at Oxford RFC if they ever need help, and spot the signs of someone who may be having a tough time.”

Playing in team games like rugby has benefits far beyond the opportunity to improve your physical fitness and stamina.

Fran Ronan, head coach of Oxford’s women’s side, said: “The team are like a second family.

“On the pitch you know that every time you put your body on the line you have someone by your side ready to pick you back up and that you can do the same for them.

“That continues off the pitch in exactly the same way. They are always there to pat you on the back, or a shoulder to cry on.

“For me it’s that camaraderie which is why rugby is the most incredible sport.”

The importance of mental health was brought home to the club in 2018 when former club member Ted Senior took his own life, at the age of 22.

The Ted Senior Foundation was set up in 2019 by friends and family, to raise funds in his memory and use them to support mental health training in university sports clubs to help prevent similar events.