RUGBY playing clergy are rare, but Teignmouth RFC had one back in the early 80s, and it made headlines such as Saturday rugby songs and Sunday Sermons.

One read: When the going gets tough in the scrum, the air can turn blue.

Forwards being trodden on, obstructed, punched or elbowed and likely to let rip with some choice language.

The boys of Teignmouth RFC have been known to let the occasional expletive slip out in the heat of the moment, but just lately opponents may have noticed a slight reduction in the number of swear words coming from the rucks and mauls.

One second row forward in fact has yet to utter a bad word or even swing a fist in anger – which, knowing locks, must be something of a record.

Others who do not have the same degree of self control are apt to look guilty when they transgress in his presence.

What they know and the opposition would never guess is that big Martin Beaumont is a man of the cloth.

When he is not winning the ball in the Teignmouth pack he is burying the dead, marrying the living, christening babies and generally tending to his flock in three villages around the Haldon hills

The fiery 32-year-old forward is rector of Ideford, Luton and Ashcombe, and also acts as chaplain n to the Bishop of Exeter.

He is thought to be the only clergyman in the area, and perhaps the country, playing regular first team rugby.

He is also a man of the world with a great sense of humour and is accepted as just one of the boys by his team mates.

‘They all know what I do, but it is hardly mentioned. In rugby your job does not matter, and I have no idea what most of the other players do for a living

‘It is a very friendly club and I am enjoying my matches. The first season I joined was bad, and last season the worst, but now I think we have turned the corner.

‘Swearing certainly does not bother me and far as I can remember, I have never swung a fist, although at times I have been sorely tempted.

‘If I am annoyed with someone I prefer to have a quiet word to make it clear I am not going to put up with what they are doing.’

Martin is a Yorkshireman whose previous job was chaplain to a school where he also coached rugby and turned out for the local club.

When he came to Ideford he was not intending  to play rugby again, but was persuaded to join Teignmouth when he christened the baby of a former clubman Gerard Starling. Now he is playing better than ever and the Teigns hope he will be with them for a few more seasons.

Sing-songs are, of course, a great rugby tradition in the bar after the match, although some of the words might not go down well with the Mothers’ Union!

‘I enjoyed a good sing song, although they are not so frequent as they used to be. I know the words of all the older songs, although perhaps I shouldn’t admit it,’ Martin joked.