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David Matthews

  • Date of Birth17 Apr 1937
  • BirthplaceOakham, Rutland
  • Appearances502

A man described as “the heart and soul of the club” by chairman Peter Tom and "Mr Leicester Tigers" by Martin Johnson, David Matthews contributed a lifetime of service to Leicester Tigers after making his playing debut in 1955.

As captain of Oakham School, Matthews pulled on a Leicester shirt for the first time as an 18-year-old. Although he did not immediately establish himself in the senior squad, once he did cement a place, his consistency at flanker meant he hardly missed a game.

In a remarkable 19 years in the Tigers team, including a spell as captain in 1965-68 and an increasing role in the coaching of the team, Matthews set a club record of 502 appearances which will never beaten. On three occasions, he played in every game in a season and established a run of 109 successive games in that period.

He also contributed 119 tries, plus 15 conversions and 20 penalties.

His landmark 500th game was against Northampton in February 1974 and Matthews was chaired off the field by team-mates at the final whistle.

David also served as captain of Leicestershire during a record number of county caps and played for Midland Counties (East) against Australia in 1966, played in three England trials and represented the Barbarians.

After nearly two decades as a player, he maintained his links with the club, combining his working life as a Rutland farmer with roles as coach, director, president and, from 2007, life member.

Matthews is acknowledged in the Wall of Legends facing Aylestone Road and in the Walk of Legends on the first floor of the main stand where his playing shirt – complete with the letter ‘H’ – hangs.

He died, aged 82, in June 2019, with legions of former players attending a Thanksgiving Service in Rutland where the eulogy was delivered by Dean Richards.