Danny Cipriani: Gloucester to stage Sale match in support of mental health issues

Gloucester Rugby fly-half Danny Cipriani
Danny Cipriani said he missed a phone call from Caroline Flack before she died

Gloucester say they are "looking after" Danny Cipriani following abuse he received on social media while grieving for ex-girlfriend Caroline Flack.

The television presenter was found dead in her London home on Saturday.

A lawyer for the family later confirmed she had taken her own life.

Cipriani tweeted soon after the news of Flack's death emerged, describing her as a "kind soul" and accusing sections of the media of lying which led to her being bullied.

The England fly-half then received criticism on the social media platform, before later revealing that he had missed a phone call from Flack before she died because he was playing.

Cipriani did not specify when she called or which game he was referring to, but the 32-year-old featured in Gloucester's Premiership defeat by Exeter on Friday.

Gloucester chief executive Lance Bradley told BBC Points West the game with Sale on 28 February will raise awareness of mental health and look to turn "an awful negative into something positive".

"It [the idea] came about over the weekend with the terribly sad news about Caroline Flack, and obviously one of our players was very close to her, Danny Cipriani," added Bradley.

"I texted Danny over the weekend to make sure he was OK. We believe in looking after each other. He's clearly very upset about it.

"We're going to make our next home game a day on which we focus on mental health and we'll do it in support of a mental health charity. We're in the early stages of planning it. We haven't decided exactly which charity but we'll raise some money for them and raise some awareness of it."

Bradley said the club would now have a closer focus on mental health moving forward.

"What's important is that this won't be a one-off game where we shine a light on something and then move on to something else," he added. "This is going to become part of what we do.

"We try to look after all of our colleagues. There are some people who think social media means you can say what you like and that it doesn't make any difference.

"I don't think that's true. It's OK to be disappointed in a result. It's OK to say you don't think somebody is playing well. It's not OK for personal criticism.

"They're people too. They feel things. We all have an obligation to think about what we say and be kind to people."