Tributes paid to Leicester Tigers record appearance holder - Ruck

Tributes paid to Leicester Tigers record appearance holder

David Matthews, Leicester Tigers’ record appearance holder and former player, captain, coach, president and director, has died at the age of 82.

Dividing his time between his Rutland farm, his family and his rugby, Matthews served the Tigers for more than 60 years.

He made 502 first-team appearances from his debut as a teenager in 1955 up to retirement in 1974, but his contribution to the Leicester Tigers and to the game of rugby as a whole, as well as the warmth of welcome he presented to friends old and new, cannot be quantified merely in the statistics.

A man described as “the heart and soul of the Tigers” by club chairman Peter Tom CBE, a team-mate in the 1960s, and as “the legends’ legend” by former Leicester and England captain Peter Wheeler

His 502 appearances brought 119 tries, a figure which stood as a record for a forward. His total of 14 tries in the 1960/61 season was more than any other forward had achieved in nearly 50 years and he then scored 21 times in 1968/69. A year earlier he had added goal-kicking to his responsibilities and ended the season as the club’s top points-scorer.

He captained Leicester for three years from 1965, leading the club to 30 wins in his first season and 33 in his second.

His 500th appearance came against old rivals Northampton in February 1974 and he went on to coach the team from 1988-91 before joining the Board of directors and served as president in 2001-03, a term of office which fittingly coincided with the club’s historic back-to-back European Cup triumphs.


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