Rugby League


21 Jul 2023

Rugby Football League celebrates Eid al-Adha

Rugby Football League celebrates Eid al-Adha

The RFL this week hosted a celebration of faith and Rugby League at its Manchester HQ. 

Arranged by former professional player Dr Ikram Butt, the first British Muslim and first British South Asian to represent England at either code of rugby, the event celebrated one of the most important festivals in the Muslim calendar: Eid al-Adha.

Several distinguished guests were invited to speak at the event including Dr Imam Qari Asim MBE, Lord Mayor of Manchester Cllr Yasmine Dar and former Leeds Rhinos star Jamie Jones-Buchanan MBE, who all shared personal stories about faith and inclusion, and how Rugby League create more inclusive environments for its communities. 

Dr Ikram Butt, Founder of the British Asian Rugby Association, explained:

“We were absolutely delighted to be invited to celebrate Eid al-Adha at the Rugby Football League’s headquarters in Manchester.

“The key focus of the event was to showcase and promote inclusivity, respect and celebrate diversity within our game. With the help of our keynote speakers and panel of trailblazers from South Asian communities, I think we really began some important conversations about diversity and how Rugby League can embrace this.

“We are very grateful for the fabulous support from the RFL CEO Tony Sutton and Inclusion Lead Ben Abberstein.” 

Leeds Rhinos legend and RFL Board Observer, Jamie Jones-Buchanan MBE, adds: 

“Thank you to Ikram Butt for organising, and Tony Sutton for hosting the Eid al-Adha celebration to recognise the importance of celebrating the inclusivity of faith within Rugby League. As a Christian, faith and family are the two most important things in my life. Having the opportunity to share that and learn about the faith of others within my Rugby League family was a privilege.”

Dr Imam Qari Asim MBE, says:

“The Eid event, hosted by the Rugby Football League, is a great example of bringing people of diverse backgrounds together and celebrating culture – both in terms of similarities and differences.

“Rugby League is gaining popularity amongst people of South Asian heritage and events such as these provide a symbolic gesture to communities that the RFL welcomes and celebrates diversity.”

RFL Inclusion Lead, Ben Abberstein, concludes:

“Inclusion is ingrained in Rugby League’s DNA, and these events are about celebrating its diversity. For many, faith is an integral part of their identity, and we want to lift up and give voice to those experiences. Embracing diversity and standing firm against discrimination can only make Rugby League a stronger sport that authentically represents all its communities. 

“Thanks once again to Dr Ikram Butt for organising the event, and to our wonderful speakers and panellists; Dr Hanif Malik OBE, Junaid Malik, Dr Imam Qari Asim MBE, Saima Hussain, Jamie Jones-Buchanan MBE, Humayun Islam BEM, Saqib Murtza and Kameron Siddique.”

Last year, the RFL became the first English sport national governing body to sign the Nujum Sports Muslim Athlete Charter and continues to use the charter as a framework to ensure that Muslim players and staff are supported in their environment to be able to practice their faith while playing and working in Rugby League.