New Zealand Rugby champion mental fitness to boost performance through new wellbeing partnership

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) announce multi-year partnership with Groov, the proactive wellbeing platform co-founded by All Black great Sir John Kirwan.

All eyes will be on the All Blacks as they prepare for their upcoming match against the Springboks this weekend and the multi-year partnership with Groov aims to shine a light on the importance of preventative mental health in sport, as a core pillar of overall performance. 

The All Blacks are long-touted for putting as much focus on what Kirwan calls their “mental fitness'' as they do their physical. But in a first of its kind, the partnership will support NZR’s mental health and wellbeing platform Mind Set Engage and will span the entire rugby ecosystem. Groov’s technology will support existing community and grassroots initiatives, through to high performance teams including the All Blacks and Black Ferns, along with the 170+ NZR employees on a day-to-day basis.

The technology will deliver proactive, bite-sized nudges, content, notifications and health checks integrated to the natural flow of work to promote wellbeing and keep it front of mind. These embedded experiences are complemented with the Groov desktop app, companion app, and Channel Groov - a dedicated ‘Youtube style’ channel for wellbeing. 

Groov will also be integrated into programmes such as the All Blacks Performance Labs, with Kirwan working closely with the Labs team to deepen the lessons for both parties on the connection between wellbeing and its effect on performance.

Kirwan said: “Wellbeing and performance are intrinsically linked, and this partnership brings the best of Groov's technology and aligns it with the proven culture of performance within the All Blacks and Black Ferns.”

For NZR, Groov enhances the organisation’s mental health and wellbeing platform, Mind Set Engage, also expanding its reach and capabilities through technology. 

NZR CEO, Mark Robinson said, “We have a shared vision to promote proactive, preventative mental health strategies that help people feel good and function better. Working with Groov presents an important opportunity for NZR to further lead the way globally and builds on the work we have already done in this very important space.”
The partnership is a proud yet poignant moment for Kirwan who has many incredible memories of being an All Black, while freely admitting that it was also a time when he struggled most. 

“When performing at the top of the game as an All Black, I had my own, well-documented mental health challenges, but in that era there were no tools available to support me. 

“There's a real opportunity now to make a massive difference in the lives of millions. We know our technology at Groov significantly lifts wellbeing. If people feel better, they perform better.”

The ability to lift performance through higher wellbeing is a core part of the origin story for Groov, underpinned and evidenced by research such as the 2019 London School of Economics meta-analysis of 339 studies - which covered over 1.8 million employees - showing those with higher employee wellbeing had higher firm performance, with positive links to productivity, loyalty, profitability and talent retention.

The partnership with NZR builds on the Groov platform already being used by hundreds of businesses of all sizes in New Zealand, Australia, and now the United Kingdom, with Cisco and Tricor among the growing client base. The data, activity and outcomes the platform measures are reported on to give organisations easy, engaging ways to help their people and know when to intervene.

New Zealand Rugby Players Association (NZRPA) representative and former All Black, James Parsons, expressed his enthusiasm for the partnership between Groov, NZR and the players, highlighting its potential benefits for all communities.

“Rugby prides itself on being a sport for everyone. Through this fantastic initiative, rugby is investing in providing practical tools that enable all communities to create habitual changes, with the hope that these changes will lead to positive outcomes for both individuals and communities as a whole.”

About Groov:

Groov’s mission is to help as many employees as possible feel good and function better and provide real-time actionable insights to employers. This is delivered by combining Groov’s core competencies in behavioural science, data, and digital experiences to deliver the right experience, at the right time, and in the right way. The platform was co-founded in 2018 by All Blacks legend and global mental health advocate Sir John Kirwan, and serial tech-entrepreneur Adam Clark. 

For more information on Mind Set Engage, NZR’s mental wellbeing progamme, click here.