Ashley Johnson spoke with passion when he explained how one of Wasps’ match day hosts’ own battle with cancer was the reason why he looks forward to taking part in Movember every year.
Premiership Rugby has announced a new and exciting partnership with the Movember Foundation designed to improve the physical and mental health of rugby fans across the country and contribute to the vital fundraising efforts of the charity.
The new relationship sees the men's health foundation become an official charity partner of Premiership Rugby.
Central to the new partnership is to support the UK fundraising efforts, dedicated to changing the face of men’s health in Movember, the month formerly known as November. Premiership Rugby will be running an Aviva Premiership Rugby League table with a ‘Mo Captain’ from each of the 12 clubs. Fans are being encouraged to join their teams by clicking here.
Johnson joined Wasps in 2012 and a year later former Aviva Premiership Rugby touch judge and club employee David Kurk was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Kurk had not had any symptoms before going to the doctors and his is a story which highlights the importance of men checking themselves regularly for diseases such as prostate and testicular cancer.
The Marlow resident, who was an Aviva Premiership Rugby touch judge for eight years, was subsequently given the all clear and his battle has been a source of great motivation to Johnson.
“David Kurk is part of the Wasps family and he got us involved,” Johnson said.
“When I arrived at Wasps I didn’t know anything about Movember but I have done it for the last three years now since I have been at the club.
“In my second year here, Kurky was affected by it and that November he was clean for the first time. To see the way he went through things emotionally and the way he spoke about it so passionately made you want to get involved in Movember.
“All men could be affected by testicular cancer and things like that so it is great that we are raising awareness.
“You don’t have to wait until you are older to check yourself. As men it is not something that we generally talk about but just hearing him talk about it and coming to the fore about it, you think about it more and want to get yourself tested.
“I would urge every man out there to go and test yourself. You never know, that might save your life by giving you more time for treatment.”
At the heart of the partnership will be the new MOVE like a Pro initiative, launching in January, which offers rugby fans the opportunity to take part in a 12-week programme at their local Premiership Rugby club to increase health and wellbeing of fans at hour-long sessions using clubs' training staff and facilities to exercise and receive expert guidance.
The MOVE like a Pro programme will be part of Premiership Rugby's award-winning BreakThru community campaign and it's at the heart of the Movember Foundation's ongoing strategy to change the face of men's health.
Johnson said Dan Robson is one who has “really outdone himself” with his Movember effort, and expects Elliot Daly and James Haskell to be another two who will look impressive by the end of the month.
The South African wouldn’t single anyone out but did acknowledge that a few of the younger players are really struggling.
“As for me, first I need to grow a bit before I decide what to do with it,” he added laughing.
“No, I’m just going for a normal moustache. If you go for something weird and wonderful then you have to outdo the others and really step up to the plate.
“It can get quite competitive among the squad and some of the boys have really outdone themselves.
“None of the teams in the Premiership want to be left behind so all of the boys are really trying to raise money and it is good banter.
“But in the end it is about the money for a great cause and raising awareness.”
You can donate to Wasps’ Movember team by clicking here.