Ulster players to speak about faith at Belfast cathedral

Pienaar, Herbst and Paul Marshall to be interviewed at Church of Ireland service

Ulster Rugby players Ruan Pienaar, Wiehahn Herbst and Paul Marshall will be talking about their faith at a service in Belfast's Church of Ireland St Anne's Cathedral on Monday next at 8pm.

Ruan Pienaar (31) has 88 caps for South Africa and played for the South Africa team that won the World Cup in 2007. He joined Ulster in 2010.

A devout Christian, he said: “I have always believed, with my Christianity, that there’s so much more to life than rugby. Being here gives me an enormous sense of purpose. I am not just here for rugby. I’m here to touch lives.”

Pienaar’s father was the Springbok fullback Gysie Pienaar. The family was a devout Christian one.


Tighthead Herbst (27) joined Ulster from the Sharks in South Africa in summer 2014 on a three-year deal while Marshall (30) is a scrumhalf.

Raised in a Christian home it was not until Marshall's final year at Methodist College Belfast that he began to take his Christianity seriously. Hearing about the death of a friend during a game was a turning point in his life.

The three players will be interviewed by the BBC's Mark Simpson. Shane Logan, chief executive of Ulster Rugby, will also talk about his faith.

The event is sponsored by Christian Vision for Men and Divine Healing Ministries.

Another Ulster player who has spoken publicly about his faith is Andrew Trimble (31) who prepares for matches by reading Psalm 84. Former Ulster player Paddy McAllister (26), now playing for Gloucester, is also a devout Christian.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times