These were the words Prince Harry used in the Rugby World Cup opening ceremony last night. This speaks to the distinct nature of the Rugby Union from many other international sports, that it holds to a specific set of values and is uncompromising in upholding these values. Among these is the notion that it is not a single player who is the focus of a team, rather that victory or defeat - it is a team effort. This can also be said of many sports, but in Rugby (be it Union or League) this is quite obvious to both the player and the onlooker as you can see when a team united in its resolve, it will fight for every inch - but if it is fractured they have no chance of victory.
This was visible in the opening game of the RWC, England vs Fiji. The Fijians played with fervor and passion, but were making unforced errors, fumbles and plays that seemed to go nowhere. Meanwhile the English were like an oiled machine. Where the English employed their signature play; the "rolling moll', they were winning meters of ground with ease. These kinds of plays require that a strong team mentality is on play.
For this reason, I am using the figure of being a part of team for our Men's Retreat (6-7 Nov at Nunyara), under the title of "Team Jesus". Being part of "Team Jesus" means being a team player, being prepared to take a 'hit' in order that the team can score the try! It means looking at others in your team and working together to get across the line. It means standing together when the opposition comes and holding back the tide coming against you.
A few principles from Rugby I'll be sharing with our men are:
- Covering the man, this is when a player has been tackled and a fellow team mate comes and stands over them, protecting them from being hurt by the bodies scrambling to get the ball. The team is effectively offiside for the next play - so this is an example of sacrifice.
- Saving at the Line, this is when the ball is about to go out of play and a team mate leaps over the line and throws the ball back into play. While it is preferential for the ball to go to a fellow team mate, it does not matter if it goes to the other team. What is important is that the game play is not halted, rarely when this happens does the other team manage to score, but the game play does not stop!
- Rolling Moll, this is a play where the player holding the ball is carried by team mates at the point of being tackled. It means that the intial hit does not become a 'tackle', thus downing the player and counting against the number of tackles. This is a great example of how 'team effort' works! The player holding the ball is carried as more and more opposition players mount on until the moll can no longer move. At this stage the ball is passed on and another moll forms. This is particularly effective for gaining 20-50 meters which can translate to a try!
But my favorite value from the sport of Rugby is the fact that at the end of each game, the players line up to shake hand and greet each other with the required 'good game'. In many cases, you'll see two players who had an altercation on the field, shake hands, have a hug or a chat - smiling or laughing... because the aggression is left on the field and now they leave the field as fellow rugby players.
In this way we also in life should be prepared to forgive and forget. It does not matter who was at fault, the culture of the sport means that players need to be good sports-people and not carry any of that agression from the field outside. I'm excited about our Men's Retreat - I think it'll be a great time of fellowship and discovering what God has in store for many of our guys in ministry.
HCUC Men's Retreat will be at Nunyara, 6-7 November - we will be hearing from Norwood Redlegs Chaplain Andrew Aish, Director of YWAM Southlands Pablo Nuñes, and Ps. Esteban Liévano. Cost: $82.50 (includes meals, own bedding required). For more information email office@hc