by Dr James Campbell – Editor of “Catholic People”
On the day before Wales play Ireland for the rugby Grand Slam, Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards talked to a Catholic gathering on “Faith in a Competitive World.
A lifelong catholic, Shaun faced a barrage of questions from the 120 plus audience at The Cornerstone, a meeting place opposite St David’s Metropolitan Cathedral.
When asked why he regularly attended church he joked: “I was scared of my mam,” adding that while captaining the Wigan Rugby League team at the age of 21 he was still an altar boy. His mother’s brother was a priest and influenced him.
“The Church has always been a part of my life,” he said. “It has influenced me on how I do my job as a coach.”
He revealed that he was not a coach who shouted at players since that really had an adverse effect. He showed compassion for injured players and that very day he had spoken to a Welsh international, out of the game for several months with a knee injury, to make him still feel part of the team and to encourage him to get better and resume his international career.
He admitted that he felt faith did not oblige him to ask God for a winning game, but only for the chance to compete and survive injury. He said that his father, also a rugby league player, had to retire at the age of 24 with a career-ending injury.
Shaun himself said when he was forced to retire through injury he was out of work for a year-and-a-half. He resumed his rugby career as a coach, working at Wasps before liking up with WRU head coach Warren Gatland at Wales.
“As a Catholic I still respect other religions and do a lot of reading on faith,” he said. But he admitted that he was an intuitive coach rather than an organised one.
He admitted that there were some things about the Catholic Church he would like changed but when challenged to give an example, he smiled, said nothing, and reverted to his position as Wales’ defence coach. You could see why he was successful in defence!
George Stack, Archbishop of Cardiff, thanked Shaun for his talk adding that it was an inspirational one. Everyone present certainly agreed that it was.
The talk was one of a series of Lenten soup and bread lunches with donations going to fund several Syrian refugee families who are being housed and supported in empty diocesan property