Australian Rugby announces rugby's ecumencial service

by staff

Australian Rugby Union today announced a non-denominational church service would be held at Cathy Freeman Park, opposite ANZ Stadium, in the lead up the Sunday Telegraph Family Fan Day and the Castrol Edge Test match against Samoa on Sunday morning 17 July.

Beginning at 10am Rugby’s Ecumenical Service will be co-presided over by priests, pastors and ministers from across the different Pacific Island cultural and religious groups and will also feature a 60 person Samoan Choir as well as a special guest message from Nick Farr-Jones, captain of the triumphant 1991 World Cup Wallabies.

The Service will also be attended by several Samoan Rugby Union Officials.

ARU Managing Director and CEO, John O’Neill AO, said the service would add another wonderful family friendly dimension to the activities already planned around the first Castrol Edge Rugby Test of the year.

“The Pacific Islands have contributed so much to our game, both on and off the field and holding this service is our way of encouraging Rugby fans and supporters to share in their passion for faith and Rugby,” Mr O’Neill said.

“Holding the non-denominational service prior to the Family Fan Day will allow families of all backgrounds, cultures and religions to celebrate their faith together and then enjoy what will no doubt be an entertaining Test to kick off a massive 2011 international campaign.”

While the service will have a distinct Pacific Island flavour, everyone is encouraged to attend and participate in the Ecumenical Service.

Farr-Jones welcomed ARU’s initiative and said he was honoured to be able to participate in such a family friendly event.

"Traditionally Sunday is the Sabbath day, so the idea of being able to celebrate two of the most important things to most Pacific Islanders, their faith and Rugby, on a Sunday and in such a family friendly setting is fantastic and I am very honoured to be able to be a part of the celebrations,” Farr-Jones said.

“I am looking forward to hearing the Samoan Choir sing and sharing the occasion with a diverse range of Rugby fans and supporters.

“This is a wonderful idea and a great initiative by the ARU and I congratulate them on providing the opportunity for people to mix two things that evoke passion and excitement in their lives.”

Rugby’s Ecumenical Service will begin at 10am in Cathy Freeman Park, opposite ANZ Stadium, and will kick-off a day of family friendly activities before the Qantas Wallabies take on Samoa from 2pm.

The Service, like all the activities planned for the Sunday Telegraph Family Fan Day, will be free of charge.

Tickets to the Qantas Wallabies Castrol Edge Test against Samoa are on sale now via