Arrows Rugby officially recognized as “Catholic” by Cardinal DiNardo
Arrows Rugby is now officially recognized as a "Private Association of the Faithful" of the Catholic Church.
"I give you my blessing and pray for the success of your apostolic endeavor to form men in Christian virtue through competitive rugby here within the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston."
Daniel Cardinal DiNardo
Archbishop of Galveston-Houston
His Eminence's Decree to the Club, May 28, 2020
Arrows Rugby Football Club was founded in the Spring of 2016 as a Catholic, family-friendly rugby club with charitable status (as a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Corporation). After a tough slate of matches that fall, the battered Arrows met to discuss the club's direction and established the Mission Statement that guides the Club today:
Arrows RFC is a Catholic community with the purpose of forming men in Christian virtue through competitive Rugby.
In alignment with the statement, the rugby club explored affirmation that its structure and activity was and will be indeed aligned with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Being recognized as a Private Association of the Faithful affirms that Arrows Rugby is both a Catholic Community and a Rugby Club.
Around the world, our sport has always been a community game centered around 'the Club'. Here in the United States, rugby's largest participation gap is in transitioning player involvement from high school or college teams into the Club environment. The Arrows mission has brought many 'ex'-rugby players out of retirement and is uniquely positioned to foster a passion for rugby that goes beyond what happens between the lines.
Additionally, the Arrows have provided many men and their families with their first-ever rugby experience. Almost half of the club's competitive players had never played rugby in their lives before joining the Arrows - and the numbers grow each season.
"It has been just over 7 years since I returned to the Catholic Church. While my loving wife was instrumental in re-converting my heart to Christ, Arrows Rugby has provided me with an incredibly rich opportunity for fraternity. I am deeply humbled that our Church - established by Jesus the Christ - would bless the best game on earth in this way. I'm pumped to share the game of rugby with the Catholic Church and to share the Gospel with the greater rugby community."
President of Arrows RFC
It may be surprising to some to learn that the Catholic Church has a rich history in evangelizing through Rugby:
- In Uruguay, the Old Christians Club was originally established (1962) as the alumni club of the Stella Maris College of Montevideo; which was founded by the Congregation of Christian Brothers. The Old Christians have consistently been a force in Uruguayan Rugby, racking up 20 National Championship titles to date.
- New Zealand is host to its own Marist Rugby Football Federation, a faith-based network of over 20 rugby clubs that span the North and South islands. Each club has its own history, but most trace their roots back to schools and communities founded by the Marist Brothers. Over 70 All Blacks hail from the Marist clubs, including Zinzan Brooke and Doug Howlett (both from Auckland Marist) and Piri Weepu (Hutt Old Boys Marist).
- Notre Dame du Rugby is a chapel in France that was renovated by parish priest (and avid rugby fan) Father Michael Devert when - in 1964 - three local rugby-playing parishioners were killed in a car accident. The chapel features rugby-influenced stain glass windows as well as jerseys and rugby boots, some of which belong to three souls passed.
Here in the United States, there are hundreds of Catholic high schools and 70+ Catholic colleges with active rugby teams. In Houston alone, the Catholic rugby landscape is vibrant:
- Two middle/elementary school programs thrive at the Regis School (part of the network of Sacred Heart schools) and Western Academy (overseen by a priest of the Prelature of Opus Dei).
- Three strong high school rugby programs exist at St. Thomas (founded by the Basilian Fathers), Strake Jesuit (founded by the Jesuits), and St. Pius X (founded by the Dominican Order)
- Though not currently active, the University of St. Thomas had a club team in years past.
"Arrows Rugby was founded with the idea to bring like-minded men together to play a fantastic sport while providing an environment that encouraged faith and family life."
Board Member & Founder of Arrows RFC
The decree from the Archdiocese strengthens our relationship with the Catholic rugby community in Houston, and we believe reinforces our charge to promote stronger ties and synergies with our Catholic community partners. Arrows RFC now stands as the Catholic rugby club in Houston; indeed, it may be the only stand-alone men's Club in the world with ecclesiastical recognition.
This recognition comes with the paramount responsibility to pick up our crosses daily and follow Jesus Christ. As the decree implores us, we must remain vigilant, stewarding our energies, aligned to our proper purpose, with discipline and integrity of faith and morals. As judicially as the recognition has been given, so can the support and authorization also be removed.
Our mission is outwardly expressed on the training pitch and on match days. Arrows Rugby currently fields a Men's Rugby team in the TRU's Red River Rugby Conference and is always seeking new players, supporters, volunteers, and fans. The Club is open to all - of any faith - with the basic expectation that each community member can agree to and strive to uphold the Arrows Code of Conduct found on the Mission page.
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