Our GM Gail Baerecke and BokSmart Senior Project Manager SA Rugby – Dr Wayne Viljoen attended a two day workshop hosted by Hearts in Union Rugby Foundation Australia, which kicked off from the Rugby Australia Head office in Moore Park with a warm “Welcome to Country” from Gary Ella – former Wallaby & Waratah Great followed by Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle.

Former Wallaby Legend and Patron of Hearts in Union John Eales then announced the workshop open and the networking and learning began.

The morning session of Day 1 focused on new concepts in both the management of spinal cord injuries as well as injury prevention with very informative presentations delivered by Professor Bryce Vissel, Dr Warren McDonald, Dr Wayne Viljoen and Ben Darwin. Research and Implementation presentations took us into the afternoon sessions with the highlight being Joe Harawira from the NZ Rugby Foundation giving us an update on their very successful RugbySmart Programme. These sessions were interspersed with fruitful panel discussions.

The evening’s activities on a warm balmy autumn night was a Captain Cook dinner cruise in the magnificent Sydney Harbour where delegates from the seven countries represented were able to mingle and socialise.

Day 2 started with a fast ferry crossing to Manley Beach and a short bus ride through the northern beaches suburbs to the Collaroy Beach. Here we were warmly hosted by the Sargood Centre, a purpose-built facility for people of all ages with spinal cord injury. Spacious wheelchair friendly apartments & recreation activities are available at this accessible holiday beach-side location.

The workshop focus at this lovely venue was all things fundraising and economic sustainability and interesting presentations on the theme, “From the chair to where?”. Gail delivered a presentation on the National Rapid Reduction Network in South Africa which is being proposed and hopefully implemented as a Players’ Fund rugby advocacy concept.

A final dinner took place at the newly renovated Collaroy Hotel which was in wheeling and walking distance from the Sargood Centre. A delicious meal was enjoyed and the Rugby Football Union (RFU) from the UK offered to host the 4th meeting to be held in 2021. Sad farewells were bid and the long haul travel across the oceans began.