Allow me to set the scene: A bright, beautiful Sunday Afternoon. Blue skies with white fluffy clouds. Sunny and warm, feeling more like summer than spring. Just under a hundred people milling around: Parents with umbrellas to protect from the sun, grandparents with lawn chairs, little children running around, and every second person is in shorts, t-shirt, and gum-boots.
This was the scene as 20 of our boys took the field in LAC’s first ever fully fielded XV’s Rugby team faced off against the boys of Manawatu College. Being the first 15 boys to wear LAC’s colours in rugby, and being the first to wear the newly designed LAC Rugby Jerseys, the boys played with a lot on the line.
After a hard fought 40mins, the boys of LAC went into half-time trailing behind 14-17. Two more tries from Manawatu College caused it to seem like this historic game may end in disappointment, but the boys fought on with admirable resilience. Scoring a pair of tries, one of which was converted, brought the game up to 26-24 in LAC’s favour. Then began the gruelling, 12-minute goal-line stand as Manawatu College used all of their skill and abilities to try to punch in one more try to secure the victory, but the boys of LAC held the line valiantly, and a turned-over ruck, then a kick out of bounds ended that day with a grand victory.
It’s hard to really describe how it felt to be a part of that day. As someone who came from Canada to New Zealand specifically for rugby, I felt God must have a sense of humour that the one door he opened for me was to a school without a rugby program. Little did I know that He had a bigger, better, more beautiful plan than I could have ever imagined. It truly has been a joy and an honour to be a part of building a rugby program for both boys and girls here at LAC, and to see the boys take the field, and ultimately win in the new jerseys, as the mountain-top experience for me.
The real pinnacle of Sunday’s game wasn’t the kickoff, the big tackles, the fast runs, or the solid defence. It was the moment right after the game, when before anything else, the boys all circled to take a knee, and remember God in what they were doing, and had accomplished. It’s easy to remember God before the game when you want to get the win, but it’s very different once you’re riding the emotional high of victory (or defeat). It’s easy to get caught up and forget Him who gave you the strength to accomplish what you set out to do.
Then after our team karakia, we went and joined our brothers from Manawatu college and had a prayer with them too. No ill-will. No anger. No displays of human pride, or putting down the other team. Just brothers who had played their hearts out stopping to remember their Creator. That for me was the ultimate validation for the time and energy that we spend in teaching, mentoring, and coaching these students: to see them choose to remember God. They could play rugby anywhere, but here they learn that regardless of where they are, the character of Christ needs to shine through like rays of sunlight during the darkest storm.
Kofi O. Amoah, School Chaplain