Rugby Football Union president Peter Wheeler led tributes to Leicester Tigers legend David Matthews at Welford Road on Saturday.
As Tigers faced Italian visitors Calvisano in the European Challenge Cup, Tigers hosted a celebration day in honour of Matthews, the club record appearance holder who died earlier this year.
The new 502 Lounge, named in honour of David’s appearance record set in a 19-year playing career up to 1974, has been opened in the Mattioli Woods Stand at the stadium, while the Players’ Player of the Year award will now be known as the David Matthews Award.
The programme for Saturday featured Matthews as the cover star and included a feature on his life and career with tributes from many friends within the game of rugby.
Ahead of kick-off, the players from both teams joined the crowd in a Minute’s Applause in celebration of David’s association with the Tigers which began in 1955 and his lasting influence as player, captain, coach, director, president and life member. A series of tributes scrolled on the stadium screens throughout the applause.
Many former colleagues shared in the occasion, with a past players’ event in the Holland & Barrett Stand, while David’s family and friends joined former Tigers captain and director Wheeler on the pitch for the pre-match tributes.
“The Tigers and the world of rugby lost one of its greatest servants with the passing of David Matthews earlier this year, bringing to a close an association with the club which spanned more than 60 years," Wheeler said.
“David made a record 502 first-team appearances in 19 years as a Tigers player. His mark will never be beaten. And he was also so much more to all who knew him.
“An inspiration on the pitch and a huge influence off it, we remember his contribution to this great club and we celebrate his achievements today alongside his family, friends and former colleagues as we honour the veritable legend that is David Matthews.”