CRY awareness campaign during IRB Under 19 World Championship

Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) will be running an extensive awareness campaign while the IRB Under 19 World Championship takes place in Belfast, Northern Ireland from April 4th – 21st.

CRY was established in May 1995 to raise awareness of Cardiac Risk in the Young and conditions such as Sudden Cardiac Death and Sudden Death Syndrome. As well as offering support to those who have suffered a loss through a network of affected families and counselling, CRY also promotes heart screening and in October 2006 opened Northern Ireland's first independently funded heart screening clinic at the University of Ulster's Jordanstown campus, offering a subsidised screening service available to the public. the athletes based at the Sports Institute at Jordanstown are currently being tested and all the Ulster Rugby Academy players there will have been screened for cardiac abnormalities by the end of March.

The Ulster and Irish rugby community was shocked and saddened in March 2004 when the Ulster Schools' Cup winning captain , John McCall, died suddenly whilst playing rugby for the Ireland Under 19 side in the IRB Under 19 World Championship in South Africa. It was later discovered that John had died of an undetected heart problem that could have been prevented had doctors been aware of it. this year's IRB Under 19 World Championship marks the third anniversary of John's death.

Cardiac experts believe that at least 8 young, apparently healthy, people die each week in the UK from undiagnosed cardiac conditions. It is important to stress that the majority of these deaths are preventable. It is also important to realise that exercise is not bad for you, but can act as a trigger for an event if the individual already has an underlying heart condition.

CRY has a number of high profile patrons in the UK including cricketer Ian Botham OBE, Olympic Rower Sir Steve Redgrave and in Northern Ireland, former Ulster and Ireland player Gary Longwell (pictured below, left), now the High Performance Manager of the Ulster Rugby Academy. Other former rugby internationals who have lent their support to the charity are Rob Jones (Wales), Gregor Townsend (Scotland) and Rob Andrew and Simon Halliday (England).

IRFU (Ulster Branch) chief Executive Michael Reid, Chairman of the Board responsible for bringing the IRB Under 19 Championship to Belfast commented: "Unfortunately, the Ulster sporting community has become acutely aware of cardiac risk in the young in the past few years following the tragic and untimely deaths of two top young sports stars, Cormac McAnallen (GAA) and John McCall (Rugby). I am pleased that the IRB commends the work of CRY and I would encourage all who attend the championship to support the work of the charity, which is so important to young sports people and their families.

For more information on CRY visit