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VATICAN CITY (AP) — The rules of rugby can help on the field of life, according to Pope Francis, who met with the managers and athletes of the national rugby teams of Argentina and Italy on Friday.
Francis told the rugby players, who were in town for a match on Saturday, that theirs was a "tough" sport but one without violence, where individual and team greatness complement one another.
He drew a parallel to life, saying rugby "makes us think about life, because all our lives lead towards a goal."
He said it can be tiring, and takes commitment and struggle.
"But the important thing is not to run alone. To arrive at the goal we need to run together, the ball is passed from hand to hand, and we advance together until we reach the goal. And then we celebrate!" he said.
The Pope called his interpretation "not very technical," but said it's how a bishop sees rugby, and encouraged followers to put it into practice in their lives, according to Official Vatican Network.
Francis also met Friday with FIFA chief Joseph Blatter.
"We spoke the same language and it was language of football," Blatter said. "It was really a meeting between two sportsmen and two football fans."
Blatter said he responded to the pope's request for FIFA to help the favelas, or slums, of Rio de Janeiro during the 2014 World Cup, with a promise to "do what we can."
"We cannot do everything," Blatter said.
The soccer-mad Francis, a longtime member of his beloved San Lorenzo club in Buenos Aires, has amassed an impressive collection of soccer jerseys as gifts from visiting teams and players.
The two also unwittingly wound up confronting the relative strength in the numbers of active participants in their institutions, with those involved in football, including players and their families, slightly outnumbering Roman Catholics worldwide.
"We have 1.2 billion people and (the pope) said, 'I have no more than 1 billion,'" Blatter said with a laugh.
Contributing: Linda Williams
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