Matthews’ record of 502 appearances for the club will never be beaten and his association with Tigers spread over 65 years as player, captain, coach, director, president and life member as well as mentor to so many of his successors in the red, white and green shirt.
Tigers chairman Peter Tom, a team-mate in the side that won a then-record 33 games in the 1966/67 season, said: “We have been fortunate to see so many big names and world-class players represent the club over the years, but everyone here looked up to David.
“He did so much for the Tigers as a player and captain, then off the field too as coach, director, president and life member. But he was also so much more than that to so many people.
“It was a privilege to play under his captaincy and to call him a friend over all those years.
“He is without doubt an all-time great of this great club and he gave remarkable service to the Tigers.
"You can see how much people thought of him by the strength of the tributes being paid by players past and present, officials, supporters and others from around the world of rugby.
“On behalf of everyone at the Tigers, I pass on my sincerest condolences to his family and friends at this time.”
Among the tributes paid on social media, current Tigers captain Tom Youngs said of his illustrious predecessor: “We have lost a true legend today. There is no Tiger like David Matthews.”
Tom Croft, like Matthews a former Oakham School student, said: “A very sad day for the Tigers Family, a man that had a huge effect on all that followed in his footsteps.”
Tigers internationals Marcos Ayerza, Freddie Burns, Jordan Crane, Louis Deacon, George Ford, Andy Goode, Jim Hamilton and former captain Ed Slater were among the others who posted their own tributes.