DJ Forbes, captain of New Zealand, leads his team inside after training on February 5, 2010 in Wellington, New Zealand.
(Photo by Marty Melville/Getty Images)
DJ Forbes understands the importance of
There is a new star on the rugby field, but not from league or union, no, DJ
Forbes is making a name for himself in Rugby Sevens.
The New Zealand skipper who has been playing the game for six years wasted no
time in proving he was a man to contend with. In his short career he has won
the 2008 IRB International Sevens of the Year award, the New Zealand Samoan
Sports Association Sports person of the Year and a gold medal in the 2010
“Off the pitch Forbes is quiet, reserved and deeply religious,”
says a commentator on IRB.com. “On the field he is strong, powerful,
dogged, inspiring and hugely competitive, all of which combines to make him
very uncomfortable to play against. He also seems to have a knack of knowing
how and when to speak with the referee.”
DJ himself keeps fairly quiet, preferring to stay out of the limelight, but he
has done a few interviews to explain to his fans what makes him the man he is
“Playing Sevens is physically demanding and with a coach like Gordon
Tietjens pushing us to
new heights in our training, we are fully prepared when we take the
field,” DJ says. “However, as much as I prepare physically I also
That’s right, the man who can lead his team to a gold medal victory
relies on God to lead him.
“My desire to be a professional rugby player only happened when I made a
decision to make Jesus Christ the Lord over my life,” he
DJ readily admits that the concept of God was not foreign to him. As a
16-year-old he had what he terms a “taste of God,” due to the
influence of his church-going cousins. But, popularity with his teammates,
girls and alcohol appeared more immediately satisfying and he soon forgot
about the commitment he had made to God.
“About six years ago I arrived at a crossroads in my life,” he
recalls. “I was at a point where I needed to make a decision for my life
as I realised that I couldn’t carry on living the way I was.
“My life at the time only existed to play rugby, to have a beer with the
boys, chasing girls and all the other desires of my head.”
Around the same time, DJ’s girlfriend became a Christian and he decided
to recommit his life to Jesus Christ. Believing in the truth of Psalm 37,
verse 4, ‘Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires
of your heart,’ DJ trusted in Jesus Christ as his Saviour by taking the
punishment he deserved for his sin and thus rescuing him from certain
DJ says surrendering to Jesus as Lord of his life meant releasing his grasp on
everything else and trusting Jesus for everything he needed.
“I knew that I needed God in my life the whole time, not like before.
This is when things drastically started happening for me,” he recalls.
“All the desires of my heart started flowing into my life and it was
only because of the decision I made to trust God for everything.
“I was a rugby player who hadn’t played provincial rugby, let
alone international. I was not known in international circles and all of a
sudden I got the opportunity to trial for the New Zealand Sevens
At camp for the trials, DJ met a fellow Christian and together they prayed
they would make the selection. Not only were their prayers answered but nine
months later DJ was asked to captain the team.
“Everybody was probably asking, ‘Who is DJ Forbes?’”
DJ, however, wants his fans to be asking another question, ‘who
is Jesus Christ?’
“As much as I take my rugby seriously, my walk with God I take even more
seriously. Prayer for me is a big part of my preparation, however it is
something that I never push onto any of the other players in the team.
DJ Forbes displaying his 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medal with son Titus
“We have Bible meetings almost every night and the boys are free to come
and join in and give thanks and praise God. If there are any prayer requests
we take the time to pray.
“On the night before the two day tournament we normally go into Coach
Tietjens’ room for the jersey presentation where we offer up a prayer of
thanks for the opportunity to play in the tournament and represent our
“It is awesome to see the whole team and management bow our heads and
give thanks — we give God thanks for the losses as well as the
DJ understands that not every one will agree with his beliefs and that some
think that he is weak relying on God. As far as he is concerned, though, if
given the choice all over again he would not do anything different.
“My life changed the day I decided to follow God and make Jesus the Lord
over me. Maybe you are sitting on the fence and undecided which way to go.
Let me say that in a game situation there comes a time when the battle is hard
and you need someone to follow, to lead the way.
“I encourage you to follow Jesus. Everyone likes to follow the crowd
and to be popular, but I can assure you that if I had done that, I would not
be where I am today. More so, I would not be able to receive the gift of
eternal life that God has promised for those who follow Him.
“You have an opportunity right now to start to live differently.
Don’t follow the crowd but follow Jesus. My challenge to you is to do it
now and choose to trust in God. Luck has nothing to do with it —
it’s all about God,” DJ concludes.
With thanks to Promise Keepers magazine — promisekeepers.org.uk