BLOG: Northumberland rugby player tackles Dry January

Stephen Parsons with the Rugby World Cup.
Stephen Parsons with the Rugby World Cup.

Northumberland County Council employee and local rugby player Stephen Parsons has signed up for Dry January and trying to stick to being booze-free through the month. He is also writing a blog about his experience in the hope that it might encourage others to do the same, as well as raising money for his chosen charity CHUF. Here is his first instalment.

Hello and welcome to my blog. My name is Stephen, I am 29 years old, and I have decided to set myself a little challenge for the start of 2016.

The challenge has been proposed by the Northumberland County Council public health team to me and few of my rugby-playing team-mates from Morpeth Rugby Club: They asked if we would like to take part in the Dry January campaign.

Dry January is aimed at making people think about the amount of alcohol they consume and the effects that it can have on our bodies, and that is part of the reason why I want to get involved – I want to see what difference it will make.

Before I started on January 1, I did some basic health checks with the Northumberland Health team including checking my blood pressure, weight and waist-line to see what effects, if any, a month without the amber nectar has.

I do not drink every day; however, on a Saturday I would say I generally have at least 3 or 4 pints as a minimum and I generally drink more than that, which is one of the reason I want to do Dry January … after a heavy month celebrating my birthday and Christmas and New Year, my wallet and my body could both do with a break.

I will clarify now that, although I play rugby, I would not call myself a rugby player. I play for the 3rd and 4th team at Morpeth, along with the other ‘social players; the teams where you are often still trying to get players at noon on a Saturday for a 1pm meet.

Alongside the playing of the game, there also exists an associated drinking culture – I’m not saying that everyone who plays rugby drinks but there is a strong social culture and I want to tackle my own attitude to it! This is partly why I want to complete Dry January, to prove that not all rugby has to be linked to drinking and laddish behaviour.

It will be a challenge to complete a full month containing full (four/five) weekends as January 2016 has, mainly because that is the time of the week when I usually have a drink (or 6).

I will be raising money for the Children’s Heart Foundation (CHUF) at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital and details will follow.

Stephen's blog is up and running now at