Under-pressure rugby legend Shaun Edwards says his Catholic faith has always helped him through his life

Faith isn’t a matter of praying for victory, Wigan rugby legend Shaun Edwards has told a gathering of Catholics.

Thursday, 21st March 2019, 8:45 am
Updated Thursday, 21st March 2019, 10:03 am
A legend of both rugby codes: Shaun Edwards
A legend of both rugby codes: Shaun Edwards

The Welsh RU team’s defence coach was speaking about his religion ahead of helping to mastermind his team’s 25-7 trouncing of Ireland which also secured them a Grand Slam.

Edwards, who made his name as one of the greatest stars of rugby league, was speaking on Faith in a Competitive World to over 120 people near Cardiff’s St David’s Cathedral, before all sorts of confusion arose about the path his career will take next.

He was due to quit the Wales set-up after this November’s World Cup and then head home to Wigan to take over management of the Warriors from “interim coach” Adrian Lam.

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Fr John

But the move has since been put in doubt after Edwards said he had not signed a contract with the cherry and whites, sparking speculation that he might be lured elsewhere.

Lifelong Catholic Edwards said that as a boy he had regularly attended Mass because “I was scared of my mam” and that he was still serving as an altar boy when, aged 21, he captained the Wigan rugby league team.

At the talk, Edwards identified his uncle, Wigan’s Fr John Johnson, as a major influence, and said “the Church has always been a part of my life”.

Fr John has been a key member of Wigan’s Christian community for decades, having been the priest at the neighbouring St John’s and St Mary’s RC Churches on Standishgate and remaining in charge of the latter to this day.

Two years ago he celebrated his golden jubilee in the priesthood.

Claiming that the Church “has influenced me on how I do my job as a coach”, he said he did not shout at players as that has an adverse effect, that he makes a point of showing compassion for injured players, and that his Faith never obliged him to ask God to win, but only to be able to compete and survive injury.