This November, you may have been wondering why a male housemate had grown a moustache that looked more like a cappuccino stain than facial hair or why those loud blokes in ties in the union bar on a Wednesday were somehow looking more handsome than usual. It was because across Imperial and the UK, men had been growing facial hair to raise awareness and money for Movember. Movember is a leading charity targeting three key issues at the heart of the men’s health crisis, funding projects tackling prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide prevention. The lack of awareness and funding for these issues have now seen one man dying of suicide every minute of every day, with males accounting for 75% of all suicides. This is why ICURFC has gotten behind this cause and raised just shy of £1,500, with a big shout out to Rohit Rajasegaran on both an impressive moustache and personally raising £350 for this charity.

Above: Billy’s Mo

One in four people in the UK will be affected by mental illness in any year, where athletes also find themselves struggling with their mental health. In 2016, elite rugby players, such as James Haskell, shared their own personal experiences with depression and anxiety for a campaign with the Rugby Players Association (RPA).

This #LiftTheWeight drive saw a 130% increase in the number of players contacting the RPA counselling services and I believe this really shows the impact of addressing mental health in sport. Improved mood and a more balanced lifestyle are obvious benefits for how physical activity can boost mental wellbeing, but sport can also fill a gap in young people’s health care. Academic departments and the Imperial College Union offer fantastic services for students, but sport creates a very informal and engaging environment where teammates can find support amongst one another on and off the field.

I think the best way to show this is with a personal example, as some may find it hard to believe that finding yourself 4 weekly food shop’s worth of student loan poorer with a VK hangover that could kill a small elephant after ACC could be of any benefit to your mental health.

This week for me, Wednesday was sandwiched between a computing exam on Monday and a 30-page design report deadline on Friday, so losing a whole Wednesday afternoon to rugby did not seem ideal. Maybe it was the fact we were playing in Regent’s Park and not Harlington, but 22 3rd XV ICURFC players put deadlines aside to face the somewhat less overworked SOAS 1s.

This week’s highlight reel could include the tap and go prowess of Eliott Stoclet or Anton ‘defence is the best offence’ Haiser eating the ankles of forwards double his size, but our final match tea of the year at Wetherspoon’s will be the best part of the day. Everyone around the table celebrating the season so far, trying to forget the watered down £4.89 pints, was a great reminder to me of the community in ICURFC and sport societies across Imperial. If you have found you have not committed to a sport society this term, get to a training session next year - new players are always welcome.

To read more about the Movember movement, head to uk.movember.com, where you can read about the movement, men’s health, and testimonials of individuals, and make a donation.

To get in touch with Imperial College Men’s Rugby, contact them at rugby@imperial.ac.uk. Donate at ICURFC’s Movember, moteam.co/icurfc.