It’s not every day that you get to tackle a bishop on the rugby pitch.
And the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Rev Stephen Platten, encountered a different sort of Trinity when he graced the Rapid Solicitors Stadium to launch his Lent Appeal.
Bishop Stephen was at The Wildcats’ ground to name Try Assist, which helps injured rugby stars, as one of the beneficiaries of his appeal.
He was joined by Jimmy Gittins and Stuart Walker, who both suffered life-changing injuries on the pitch.
The bishop, who looks a promising halfback, swapped a few passes with the ex-rugby players at a bitterly cold launch event at Belle Vue on Tuesday.
Bishop Stephen said: “Each year I continue to be amazed at the generosity of the people of our Diocese in supporting the annual Lent Appeal. I am sure that this year will be no exception. I want parishes to engage with this very worthwhile project, the money we raise makes a very real difference to people’s lives.”
Last year Try Assist -formerly known at the RFL Benevolent Fund - spent more than £100,000 helping injured players and their families.
Former Wakefield MP, David Hinchliffe, who is now a trustee of the rugby fund, said: “Rugby League is woven into the social fabric and culture of the Wakefield Diocese.
“We are delighted for the support of the church in helping seriously injured rugby players readjust their lives after career-changing injuries.”
Mr Gittins, 39, of Sandal, broke his neck in two places playing for Sharlston Rovers in 2002. He was given stark diagnoses of probably not being able to walk again and not having children. But the dad-of-two said defied doctors on both counts.
He said: “I’ve to be thankful for Try Assist for two things. Firstly, they engaged me back into Rugby League. Secondly, they have created a lot of friendships. It’s not always financial help, there is lots of advice and some really great friendships with it.”
People can contribute to the Lent Appeal through donations at their local parish church or by sending a cheque to The Bishop’s Lodge, Woodthorpe Lane, Sandal.