Players gather for the ultimate day of rugby

Date posted: 21/06/16



TRIES came in thick and fast as England saw off the Combined Celts 57-41 in an entertaining clash at Staines RFC.

Despite some high quality displays, this was not an early British & Irish Lions trial match, but an annual contest that sees a network of Christian players and their teammates come together to mark a major final.

The match, for which the coveted 'Thimble' is at stake, has traditionally been played on European Champions Cup or Heineken Cup final day, but this year's clash marked the English Premiership Final.

Sticking with tradition, however, 80 minutes of action was followed by a talk on the Christian faith over lunch before heading to the final at Twickenham and spending the evening together afterwards.

Played in warm and dry conditions, the match featured 46 players and some free-scoring rugby resulted in just under 100 points.

Both sides attacked from every corner of the pitch, with the powerful and mobile English pack carrying the ball hard, and the Celtic backs proving elusive.

It didn’t take long for the deadlock to be broken, and England struck with two early tries before the Celts notched one in reply and the game was on.

With England 26-12 ahead at half-time, the tries kept coming and despite a late Celtic comeback, the ‘home’ side never relinquished their lead, eventually running out 57-41 winners.



(Clockwise from top left) Johnny Miller (Deloitte RFC) scoring a try for England, Kieran Holliday (Bicester RUFC) and Anthony Baston (Caterham School) compete for the ball, the boys at the Premiership Final.

With energy levels restored by lunch, Welsh fly half Dave Hampton (Bicester RUFC) spoke from Luke 13:22-30 about how Jesus is the narrow door to the greatest feast that is not to miss out on. There was an opportunity to chat further over dessert before heading off to Twickenham for the final.

Already the European champions, Saracens secured the English title with a 28-20 victory over a brave Exeter Chiefs side in an entertaining final. Players then retired to a local pub for food, chat and turn their sights to football with the Champions League Final on the big screen.


As ever, it was fantastic to spend a day enjoying the good gift of rugby together with players from all corners. Above all, the hope is that it will give rugby players who would not call themselves Christians a chance to really grapple with Jesus’ claims, and to come to know Him for themselves.

With so many involved in the game that we love not yet trusting in Jesus’ death for us on the cross, there is plenty of work to be done as we get stuck into some of the greatest communities around - rugby clubs across the UK - and take the good news of Jesus with us!

Next year's event will be held in Edinburgh around the 2017 Champions Cup Final on the May 13 - please save the date for that weekend and email if you’re interested in getting involved.


Mike Harris, Bicester RUFC
Mike plays rugby for Bicester RUFC and is a staff worker for Christians in Sport, mainly working with university students.