On May 3rd, after their final regular season rugby match, Gregory the Great Academy’s Highlanders knelt and sang the Non Nobis Domine, as every Highlander has for over two decades: the same red jersey, the familiar numbers on each back, but a different field, different dusty faces with heads bowed: Not unto us, O Lord, but to thy name give the glory.
Rugby has long occupied a central role in the education that the boys receive at Gregory the Great Academy. While high school boys need to run around, rugby has always been something much more than a cathartic pastime. It both reflects and unites the central virtues of our education.
There is a ritual to each rugby game. While it concludes with a hymn of praise, it begins with a Welsh war song, “Men of Harlech:”
See the glare of fires like hell there,
Tongues of flame that writhe and swell there.
Brave men strike with full-voiced yell there:
Forward with all might.
So framed in poetry and prayer, each match itself shares something of both its beginning and its end. Each well executed play finds that gap in the defensive line like the poet who finds that perfect word to complete his rhyme scheme. A moment of beautiful execution building to create the whole, a beautiful poem or a great game of rugby. Each tackle a grappling with fear, an act of virtuous courage offered Non nobis Domine, sed nomini tuo da gloriam.
The true Highlander, like any man who possess true manly virtue, is no brute bent on destruction, but a fiercely joyful soul at play, making an offering of his exquisite playfulness. The Highlanders will be playing their first post-season match on May 10th in Pittsburgh. May God’s guidance and your prayers support them in the contest.
by John Bascom, Assistant Coach