Wellington Rugby and the Cancer Society are joining forces to support Ruck Cancer.

On Saturday, May 14, players from Wellington’s 17 premier club teams as well as four college first XV sides will wear purple socks in a bid to reduce the risk of cancer by highlighting the benefits of healthy living and regular doctor’s visits.

Ruck Cancer and Purple Sock Day are the creation of former Wellington Lions player Evan Belford who took up the cause after losing Poneke Football Club teammate and close family friend Misiluni Moananu to bowel cancer last year.

People can donate $3 by texting RUCK to 469, while New Zealand Cancer Society volunteers will be collecting at every Wellington premier club game on Saturday, as well as during the Hurricanes Super Rugby match against the Reds at Westpac Stadium that night.

Moananu’s death inspired Belford to create something tangible to honour the popular tight head prop’s contribution to the rugby community.

“Luni was somebody in Wellington club rugby who people knew really well purely because of his contribution to the sport both on and off the field.

“His passing brought the rugby community together. All clubs attended his funeral, a lot of schools and that was because of his involvement at community level.”

Belford said the passing of talented young Northern United wing Nene Va’alepu in January was another wake-up call to the rugby community that nobody was invincible.

“We should not just take the game of rugby serious but also our health. The same drive and commitment we put into our training, games or planning and administration is the same level of drive and commitment we need to put into caring for, and respecting, our bodies.

“Ultimately it’s not about wearing purple socks, it’s about encouraging people to reduce the risk, understand more about their body and get regular checks at the doctors so we can kick cancer in the butt.”

Belford’s message resonated at the Wellington Rugby Football Union where chief executive Steve Rogers didn’t hesitate at the chance to make a positive impact on the health of the union’s 11,000 players.

“It really hit a chord with us. We are a big collision sport in rugby and there is a bit of a macho attitude to the whole thing, so this is about the well-being of the people who play our game.

“When we sat down and thought about it we realized this was something we had to get behind.”

For Rogers, like so many others in the rugby community, the cause is very close to home after he collapsed three years ago and was subsequently diagnosed with lymphoma.

“It made me look at my health and wellbeing, things like getting prostate checks, that’s become a routine thing for me now. For us at Wellington rugby it’s about the well-being of our players and getting that message out earlier.”

Wellington Rugby manager of amateur rugby Will Caccia-Birch said the rugby community’s show of support this Saturday was a reflection of an ethos in the game that was personified by Moananu. 

“He would be proud, not only to see these young men getting out and doing their thing on the rugby field, but also the need to make sure they are aware and are looking after each other. That’s what the rugby fraternity is about, having each other’s backs.”

About Ruck Cancer

Ruck Cancer was created by Evan Belford following the passing of his close friend and club mate Misiluni Moananu. Moananu played 200-plus games for Poneke Football Club’s premier team before playing his final season with the Wellington Football Club (Axemen) in 2015 where he also coached the club’s U21 Colts team.

Belford’s goal was to promote cancer awareness and men’s health awareness to Wellington’s rugby community. In 2016, RUCK CANCER NZ was launched in partnership with Cancer Society Wellington and the ‘Get The Tools Programme’.

Official launch

On Wednesday, May 11, RUCK CANCER will hold a launch at Poneke Football Club at 6:30pm to unveil the purple socks to be worn on Saturday. Chris Te’o from the Cancer Society Wellington Division and Evan will share the key messages of RUCK CANCER NZ

Purple sock day

Seventeen premier club teams, four college first XVs in Wellington and all of the match officials involved will wear purple socks on Saturday May 14th in honour of Misiluni Moananu, and to raise awareness around cancer.

In the past 6 months, Wellington’s rugby community has lost two premier rugby players to cancer - Misiluni Moananu, Poneke Football Club/Wellington Football Club and talented young wing Nene Va'alepu from Northern United.

Why purple?

Purple is the ribbon colour that represents the awareness of all kinds of cancer.

The key messages of Ruck Cancer

  1. REDUCE the risk of cancer by making healthy choices (not smoking, being SunSmart, being a healthy weight and reducing alcohol intake)       
  2. UNDERSTAND more about your body and your family’s health history
  3. CHECK yourself at the doctors regularly 
  4. KICK cancer in the butt - cancer can be treated if found early

5 things the rugby community need to know about cancer:

  • A third of all cancers may be prevented with a healthy lifestyle
  • Many bowel cancers can be cured if found early
  • In NZ, melanoma kills more men than women
  • There is no “one size fits all” for prostate cancer testing and detection – talk to your doctor

Wellington Region Programme 2016

The goal of RUCK CANCER is to get all Wellington rugby clubs to take part in a Cancer awareness programme. Wellington clubs and schools will promote RUCK CANCER NZ and Cancer Awareness by sporting the purple socks for one game.

Cancer survivors, those fighting cancer and their families will have the opportunity to share their cancer story. Any funds raised will support the work of the Cancer Society Wellington Division to continue their research, support and services provided to cancer patients and their families

Clubs involved

Avalon, Hutt Old Boys Marist, Johnsonville, Marist St Pats, Northern United, Old Boys University, Oriental Rongotai, Paremata-Plimmerton, Petone, Poneke, Tawa, Upper Hutt Rams, Wainuiomata, Wellington, Stokes Valley, Western Suburbs, Eastbourne, Scots College, St Pats Town College, St Pat Silverstream College, Wellington College.

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