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Ackermann sought help over trauma

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'All that went through my mind was take everything, don't shoot my brother and my friend'

Gloucester flanker Ruan Ackermann has revealed he sought help to deal with the flashbacks he endured following a frightening gunpoint robbery on a recent trip back to South Africa.

Ackermann, son of Gloucester director of rugby Johan, was in Pretoria for a short break with his brother when three men, who had followed their car, held them up and put guns to their heads.

Ackermann had his money, credit cards and visa to be in England stolen which meant he had to arrange a new short term visa to allow him to continue his rugby career in Gloucester.

Ackerman, 24, has been able to get help from Pete Wynter, part of the Gloucester coaching staff, to deal with the flashbacks of the incident and is now able to sleep without interruption. He spoke of the mental trauma created by the holdup as Gloucester prepared for Friday night’s match with Sale at Kingsholm that is designed to shine a light on Mental Health, raise awareness and promote kindness through the #BeKind campaign.

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The Gloucester Rugby Foundation has teamed up with the Samaritans to raise awareness of Mental Health and generate funds for the Gloucester & District Samaritans. The move followed Danny Cipriani, the Gloucester and England outside half, using social media to highlight his own battles with mental health issues following the death of his former girlfriend Caroline Flack, the television presenter.

Ackermann returned to Pretoria at the end of January when the incident happened and said: “After I got back into my routine in Gloucester I started getting flashbacks as I was sleeping thinking about what if they had shot me or my brother? It plays in your head and I spoke to my Dad about if I should speak to someone. We have Pete (Wynter) at the club who speaks about psychology with the team and I talked to him after the Exeter game about what happened and have seen him a couple of times.

“Things have settled down but if someone does sneak up on me at the angle they guy came at me then I will get a bit of a fright. I am able to sleep through the night now and I park my car without worrying.”

The police in Pretoria are still investigating the hold-up and Ackermann is in daily contact with the officer dealing with the incident. He added: “We took my brother out for lunch and then drove to the hotel and as we got there a guy put a gun to my head and told me to turn off the car. My brother had a gun to his head and my friend behind me also had a gun on him. All that went through my mind was take everything, don’t shoot my brother and my friend, take the car not our lives.

“They took everything and that included visas and permits to get back ( into Britain) and I had to get back for training and then the Exeter game and what was supposed to be a week chilling with my family turned into a dramatic, scary incident and realising how quickly your life can be taken from you.”

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'All that went through my mind was take everything, don't shoot my brother and my friend'
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