HARLEQUINS rugby star Charlie Matthews returned to his Chichester roots to cast his eye over the next crop of talented players to emerge at Chichester RFC and to give the current university and club first teams a coaching masterclass.
Matthews started his visit to Oaklands Park with a bit of fun and fairly light training with the under-16s and some members of the colts who normally train on other evenings but were keen to meet a player that started out just like them and is now playing at the very top level.
Following the training, the lads had a question-and-answer session with Matthews in which he was asked everything from how to become a better player to the age at which he started to take rugby seriously.
Matthew said: “When (director of rugby) Paul Colley spoke to my dad about helping out I was only too pleased. I played at Oaklands Park from under-nines right through to under-16s and have some great memories of playing for the blue and blue.”
The key, he told the youngsters, was to have fun: to enjoy playing and not to give up. He did not make county level initially but persevered and with some luck and a lot of hard work, he rose up the levels.
Matthews played at under-18 for Sussex, London division and then England before moving up to county and London under-20s and he played in the junior world cup for England under-20s.
The past two seasons have seen Charlie, now 22, break in as a regular for the Harlequins first-team squad – just coming back into contention this season following a shoulder injury.
Colley said: “Having Charlie take the time to come and see us highlights genuine rugby spirit. He is very busy with a full-time training schedule at Quins but took the time to pass on some of his experience to the next generation of Chichester players and indeed our current first team.
“We want to encourage rugby at all levels here at CRFC from under-sevens right through to the first team and beyond.
“We have produced a series of high-quality players over the years - within Charlie’s age group, he and Kieran Low are playing regularly in the Premiership and Callum Wilson is a member of the current England sevens set-up.
“However, at the heart of CRFC is fun and enjoyment at whatever level - why not come along and play or watch any Saturday or Sunday during the season?”
For more, see www.chichesterrfc.co.uk