Eddisson Munoz, left, posing with a teammate at the Alianz rugby stadium, where his team won the semifinals on March 8. Photo: BUC

Adventist News

15-Year-Old Rugby Player Stands for Sabbath — And Wins

The English teen will get to play in national school finals even though he refused to play on Sabbath.

A 15-year-old rugby player who risked his sports dreams by taking a stand for the Sabbath will still get to play in England’s main rugby stadium after the match’s date was unexpectedly moved to a weekday.

Eddisson Munoz, an up-and-coming rugby player in Wakefield, a city 160 miles (260 kilometers) northwest of London, faced a dilemma after studying the Bible for a year with an Adventist church elder and his wife and deciding that he wanted to get baptized in May.

Rugby and Sabbath worship can come into conflict with each other because matches are often scheduled for Saturdays.

Moreover, Munoz’s team at the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School played exceptionally well this season and had a shot at reaching the national school finals, which are played at London's 82,000-seat Twickenham Stadium, known as the home of England rugby. The finals have been held on Saturdays in previous years.

“The tension between academic or sports achievement, peer pressure, and commitment to God is a difficult one for our youth,” said Victor Hulbert, communication director for the British Union Conference.

As Eddisson Munoz studied the Bible, he felt a growing need to ask his school for permission to stop playing rugby on Saturday, Hulbert said.

But he found it difficult to raise the issue with the coach because his friends did not understand why he could not shift his day of worship from Saturday to Sunday, at least during the days with rugby matches.

Further complicating matters, he felt that his rugby skills were a talent that should be expressed on the field.

“This was a very low point in his life as he felt very isolated in a big world that did not understand his beliefs,” said his father, Eddy Munoz.

A panoramic view of Twickenham Stadium where Eddisson Munoz will play on March 23. Photo: Ed Watts / Flickr

It was at this time that his church family rallied around him. The church elder, David Patrick, and his wife, Angela, who had been studying the Bible with Munoz, presented the teen’s concerns to the rest of the church family and they began to pray. Munoz’s parents, who attend the church, joined in lifting up their son in prayer.

At the boy’s request, the parents then met with the head coach and spoke with him about Sabbath worship and their son’s upcoming baptism.

"To our surprise they were very understanding and accepted our wishes, concluding that mid-week games would be his priority," Eddy Munoz said, according to Hulbert.

"The outcome has been a blessing,” he said. “We know that more needs to be done, but he is going in the right direction."

Eddisson Munoz is now excited that he will get to play at Twickenham Stadium later this month. His team won the semifinals with a score of 29-5 against the Wirral Grammar School in London on Sunday, March 8, and will play at Twickenham Stadium on Monday, March 23. 

Normally the finals would take place on a Saturday, but the match was unexpectedly moved because of a scheduling conflict with the Six Nations Championship, the major rugby union tournament, which will be held on that Saturday.

"Isn't it marvelous how God prepares everything?" Eddy Munoz said.

Eddisson Munoz’s team has never won the finals despite making it to the final match seven times in previous years, but his father is confident that this year will be different.

"I have said to Eddisson that our Lord will bless His children," he said.

Hulbert said that Eddisson Munoz’s stand for the Sabbath would be the more lasting result of the match, no matter whether his team won or lost.

“Who knows what the outcome of the match will be, but what is certain is that as Eddisson continues to make choices of faith, not only will he grow, but his friends may also come to appreciate the moral and spiritual choices that he is making,” he said.

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