On Monday 9th October, we had our Ruby Memories Meeting and enjoyed listening to guest speaker Matt Stevenson!
Matt talked of many of the games he played and opponents he met and usually destroyed. Rugby was in many ways a more physical game then. Injuries to players were accepted with Matt’s fast robust running style, high knee lift and use of shoulders and elbows a menacing sight. He showed us a newspaper clipping of a try he scored in 9 seconds in a league match, a pre-planned move when he collected the kick off and sprinted through two defenders to score. Has there been a quicker Scottish league try?
Matt was invited to play rugby by Kenny Chrichton and chose this over the chance to play football, possibly at Stirling Albion. With the susequent success, team bonding, lifelong friendships Matt felt he made the correct choice. Matt recalled many great players with whom he took the field, picking out Jim Leadbetter who waas an incredible player who could have gone onto internationl levels having helped Glasgow District beat the South in their own backyeard for the first time. Matt spoke of success at the Stirling Sevens tournament, a major event in the day, eventually winning it four times in a row.
However Matt was to take an opportunity to referee when he stopped playing, encouraged by our own Sandy Bryce, who asked Matt to take a pause before blowing for penalties to allow advantage to take its course. By doing this and managing firm control of players and he could go far. Following a successful Under21 international match in Ireland he was asked to go to the World Under 21 tournament in England for three weeks. He noticed a young Richie McCaw finding his feet with New Zealand. Opportunities to referee and run touch in the newly developing European rugby tournaments gave Matt many wonderful experiences and he regaled us with many of them. He remembered being cold shoudered at the after match dinner in Toulouse when his “foot in touch” decision had allowed Leicester to beat the french in their home ground for the first time. When the video replay showed the foot was really in touch Matt was accepted and thereafter treated royally when in France,
The photograph shows Matt with the programme from one of the more famous games he refereed when Strathendrick beat Musselburgh from many leagues above them in the Scottish Cup. You don’t do that, but they did!! Thanks to Matt for his wonderful stories of rugby from the recent past, although as he said, it seems so different from rugby today.
The next Memories meeting is on Monday 13th November at 1.30 pm when we are doing a live link to Murrayfield to experience the realities of a Scotland Grand Slam.
Don’t miss out! All welcome + free cake, tea and coffee!