A birthday party in France for ‘the game they play in heaven’ will double as a celebration of the saints who shaped two Catholic faith communities half a world away in Brisbane.

Iona College has welcomed the announcement from the Stuartholme School confirming they will be sending a girls’ team to the inaugural Rugby Heritage Cup, joining Iona as Australia’s representatives at this prestigious event being held in France this September.

The Rugby Heritage Cup (RHC2023) will be held in Pontlevoy in France the week before the Rugby World Cup (RWC) in September.

Every nation competing in the RWC was asked to nominate boys and girls teams to compete in an under-15, seven-a-side tournament to celebrate rugby’s 200th anniversary.

Iona College’s application was accepted by the RHC2023 Organising Committee late last year, while Stuartholme recently announced they had been accepted as Australia’s representative in the girls competition.

The two schools coming together in France is a fitting combination of rugby, education and faith.

Iona College’s heritage is French, through the Founder of the Oblates who run the College – St Eugene de Mazenod OMI – who began the order in Aix-en-Provence in 1816.

Stuartholme is a school of the Sacred Heart, a congregation of Catholic women established by St Madeleine Sophie Barat – also in France, in 1800.

“With Stuartholme now joining us in France, the RHC2023 will now be a celebration of culture and faith, as well as sport and education,” said Iona College Rector, Fr Michael Twigg OMI.

“Both our religious orders were founded in France by saints, just years apart. It is quite incredible that now, all those years later, our two schools will get the opportunity to celebrate this amazing shared heritage together by representing Australia on a global stage.

“There is certainly a lot of synergy between our two schools in being able to share this journey together.”

Fr Twigg said he was delighted Stuartholme had joined Iona as Australia’s representatives at the RHC2023.

“It is a wonderful honour for both schools, and a cause for celebration for our local communities and all of Queensland that two schools from Brisbane have been chosen to represent Australia at this global event in France this September,” Fr Twigg said.

“This is an amazing opportunity for young rugby players from both schools to participate on the world stage, and it is fantastic that the international rugby community is acknowledging the contribution of school students to the game’s growth and popularity around the world like this.

“Rugby is named after a school, and honours the foresight of one student who saw an opportunity – and then literally picked up the ball and ran with it.

“So for students from different parts of the world to be invited to come together and share in a fellowship and celebration of rugby on a global stage is tremendously exciting for everyone.”

The Rugby Heritage Cup will be held in Pontlevoy, France from September 2-7.