South Africa’s John Smit has joined the rugby greats taking part in the Worldwide Currencies Cup match at Allianz Park on Friday, June 30th as the opener for the Sevend and the City festival in London.
The former Springboks captain and World Cup winner returns to Saracens for the all-star game for the Restart Rugby and the #LiftTheWeight mental health awareness campaign.
Smit is accompanied by an overseas contingent including fellow South Africans Thinus Delport and Neil de Kock, Australia’s Justin Harrison, Wales’s Michael Owen, Ireland’s Paddy Wallace, Scotland’s Gordon Ross and Italy’s Fabio Ongaro.
Former England stars taking part include Iain Balshaw, Mark Cueto, Danny Grewcock, Lee Mears and Shaun Perry.
The #LiftTheWeight campaign run by the Rugby Players Association (RPA) aims to remove the stigma around mental health issues and encourage past and present players not to suffer in silence.
“If you’re recently retired it’s a major change in migrating to the real world,” said Smit.
“Rugby’s a very different life. We love it and then we have to come away from it. Rugby players maybe push it under the carpet. The campaign helps make it easier to talk about it – it’s a call to arms and it is another way to help your teammates.”
Smith hasn’t played since retiring at the end of the 2013 season before spending two years as chief executive of the Sharks in Durban.
“The idea of running into the boys doesn’t excite me too much,” he said. But what we’re doing is pretty special and making a difference is something that’s very important.”
Sevens and the City – rugby meets music
The Worldwide Currencies Cup match kicks off the Sevens and the City sport and music festival curated by Matt Stevens and David Strettle.
Its South African flavour is added to by Saturday night’s music headliners GoldFish, the electronica duo from Cape Town with a global following.
For more details and tickets go to SevensAndTheCity.com