Rugby World January 1969

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Rugby World January 1969

by PaulHP on Tue Mar 28, 2006 5:54 pm

Article from Rugby World January 1969 by Rupert Cherry


Tony (A.T.) Pearce

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Tony Pearce…”I’m not cutting myself off from the world.”

THE HOOKER BECOMES A MONK

Rugby Football being more inclined to make one swear and drink than dedicate oneself to religion, I am always surprised to clergyman among our number.

The many that I have known, however, in no way seem men apart, either on the field or in the clubhouse. But never before have I come across anyone like Tony Pearce, who has just become a monk.

For 16 years he has taken his fill of all that the game has to offer. He has hooked for St. Luke’s College, London Irish, Blackheath, for a short while Sussex against most of the best players of his time.

He has made a host of friends, shared flats with players, lived and talked Rugby with them all the time-and now he has given it up. Why?

One needs to know a little of Pearce’s background. He was born in England, but his grandparents were Irish and he has been brought up as a Roman Catholic. For a while he worked in an insurance office, but soon found that teaching was what he really wanted to do.

Until he was 31-five years ago- he was happy as a teacher, and enjoyed his Rugby life, the society of the men in the clubhouse, the beer and the songs. Being a good looking chap, he had plenty of girl friends too.

But the thought came to him that he should make more use of his life. At first he tried to put it aside, but as time went on the conviction grew that he must do better, that he was here to serve-and to the best of his ability.

Even when we talked the day before he was to enter Worth, the Benedictine monastery in Sussex, Tony Pearce did not seem to be a fanatic about religious matters, but I could sense the strength of his conviction that this drastic step was the only one possible for him.

“The hardest part will be to leave my Rugby friends, and the people I know in the theatre through my brother and sister,” he said.

“I am intensely interested in the theatre, as I am in Rugby, but if it were necessary, I would be prepared to give all that up completely: but I need not do so. I shall see some of them again-although, with my collar on back to front. I know I shall not be the same to them.”

In the monastery he will wear the habit of a monk. For the first year he will be a novice, learning the “offices”, reading theology and philosophy.

Later he will begin teaching again, for Worth is a public school with 270 boys as well as being a monastery. Indeed, as a layman, he has taught there before.

After perhaps three years he must decide whether to continue. He has not the slightest doubt that he will choose to remain and renounce everything he possesses. He said simply: “I shall do my utmost. I want to serve God.”

Pearce does not feel particularly “good” because he is doing this. “I am thinking only of myself,” he told me. “I am not cutting myself off from the world. It is only that, by living the life of a monk, I can fulfil my purpose.”

His is not a life of prayer and fasting, although there will be something of each. “Everything” he said “is done in moderation. One can have a drink now and then, and it is not total incarceration.

“All the monks have to contribute something to the way of service. There are lawyers and civil engineers, and nearly everyone has worked in the outside world before entering the monastery.”

Among the community of 20 monks at Worth, Brother Pearce’s service will be as a teacher of English.

He was afraid that everything he had told me would sound over-dramatic, but this was not the case at all, for he talked in such simple, matter-of-fact manner that he might have been discussing last Saturday’s match.

But one could not doubt his sincerity in chasing his new life. I have great respect for Tony Pearce.

I have looked at the Worth website and can't find a mention of him, but I wouldn't expect to find a list of Monks on there.
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by PeterS on Tue Mar 28, 2006 7:47 pm

Paul, from the dates quoted, he'd now be about 73/74. Do we know whether he toughed it out or quit and even if he's still alive?
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by PaulHP on Tue Mar 28, 2006 7:49 pm

Peter

I will try and email them tomorrow and find out.
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by OSBLIAdmin on Tue Mar 28, 2006 8:18 pm

Bless him. I, too, have decided to follow a holy path. Well, that's my excuse anyway.
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by PaulHP on Wed Mar 29, 2006 12:15 pm

I have received the following from Worth Abbey:

Dear Paul,

Thank you very much for your email. I’m afraid I cannot tell you much about Tony Pearce. The present Abbot of Worth tells me that he did not persevere as a novice and left the monastery before taking vows. He remained in touch with us for number of years but has not been in touch recently.

With all good wishes on behalf of the Abbot and community
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by PeterS on Wed Mar 29, 2006 4:46 pm

Thanks Paul. Don't do religion myself but nevertheless I think it's sad when someone sets their heart on something but can't make it through the qualifying rounds.

Hope he's been (or is still) in a happy relationship and watches lots of rugby and gets down the pub regularly, bless his heart.
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