Club Chaplain Jez Safford presented several Northampton Saints players and support staff with copies of the Gideons International Bible last week.
Francois van Wyk, Paul Hill, Taqele Naiyaravoro and Heinrich Brüssow received the special new Saints editions on behalf of the squad, with Ken Willis and Alan Hadley representing the Gideons – a Christian association who have been distributing free Bibles for over a century.
The men in Black, Green and Gold have always had a close relationship with the church and in particular the local diocese, with Reverend Samuel Wathan Wigg forming the original side and founding the Club all the way back in 1880.
“It’s important for us not only to remember the Club’s heritage with the Church, but also to always offer support for our people whose faith is very important to them.”Jez Safford, Club Chaplain
But while Chaplain Safford was thrilled to provide a reminder of the Club’s religious heritage, he believes the excitement shown by players and staff in receiving the Bibles proves the significance of faith within the Club today.
“I’m absolutely delighted to be able to present some of our players and staff here at Franklin’s Gardens with fresh editions of the New Testament, complete with a Saints crest on the front cover and a unique Club prayer inside,” he said.
“Northampton RFC is unique for how it was founded and for how it has remained close to its religious roots since the Club’s inception almost 140 years ago.
“We trace our origins back to a clergyman, Revd Wigg, and – as well as adopting the name, ‘Saints’ – a significant number of our players and members of staff at Franklin’s Gardens are practicing Christians.”
Revd Wigg, a local clergyman and curate of St. James Church in Northampton, set up a team made up of the area’s ‘high-spirited’ boys as a way for them to let off steam without getting into trouble on the streets of the town.
From those humble beginnings, Northampton RFC went quickly from strength to strength, and Revd Wigg enjoyed watching the side quickly develop into one of the most successful clubs in England.
Safford added: “It’s important for us not only to remember the Club’s heritage with the Church, but also to always offer support for our people whose faith is very important to them.
“Players and staff arrive at Franklin’s Gardens every year from overseas, some of them moving across the world to a strange new place for the first time.
“I hope that in presenting these Bibles to any current or new player that wants one, they will be encouraged that we take their beliefs seriously and value them.”