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The Word on the Week

Brian O’Driscoll

Brian O’Driscoll has seldom been out of the news this week. Riding high off his “Man of the Match” performance in last Saturday’s match against Italy his stellar career on the Rugby field surpasses all the other Irish greats from times past.

He has been at the centre of Irish Rugby, in more ways than one, his presence dominating the national and international game over the past 14 years. The No.13 jersey is being worn by him today for the last time appropriately in Paris in the stadium where it all began.

What is it about Rugby that holds such fascination? Perhaps some clues can be gleaned when we saw the game through Ghanaian eyes. The visitor from that land was new to the game and we watched a match on TV. He marvelled at the curbing of our natural instinct required by the rule to pass the ball backwards while striving to go forward. The shape of the ball intrigued him with its unpredictable bounce and also the scrum which tied up half the players in a contest where he thought skill was surrendered to sheer shove!

So different from the soccer he grew up with and yet there was a marvelling at the discipline required to play Rugby that he went on to become a follower of the game!

That discipline Brian had in abundance. So had the team and together they held out to achieve a memorable victory over France to win the Six Nations Championship.

The Bible has its heroes. They appear throughout its pages but are summarised in Hebrews chapter 11 where we get the “Roll of Faith”.

These were ordinary people who led extraordinary lives. They learned about God’s promises and they believed. This belief in what was said by an unseen God changed their natural instincts from walking by sight to relying on and obeying God’s word even when it was costly to do so. Many died before they saw the promises fulfilled. Some were martyred, as in many places in the world today, rather than renounce their faith.

Unlike sporting heroes this discipline did not come so much by training but by a surrender of the will to a triune God who not only convicts of sin and converts the sinner but established his presence within him leading to a life of service.

The glory of today’s victory, and it was glorious, will fade. The laurel wreath withers. But for the long haul St Paul’s advice is still relevant. “…while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.