Top of His Game

Matthew Richards of Jumeirah College recently represented the UAE at the Asia Rugby Championships.

Building on his international rugby debut last year, Jumeirah College (JC) PE Teacher and Director of Rugby Matthew Richards, has once again been selected for the UAE National Rugby Team. Apollo Perilini, UAE Head Coach, selected a 23-man playing squad for the 15-a-side format of the Asia Rugby Championships which was held from 15-18 May.

Following his winning debut last year, where he played a part in defeating Gibraltar, Matthew added to his appearance caps at the Championships in Thailand. The UAE is working towards moving into the top tier of Asian rugby to play against the likes of Asian giants, Japan.

Matthew’s selection is off the back of his second season playing at Jebel Ali Dragons under coaching from former England International, Henry Paul and former Welsh International, Mike Phillips. British-born Matthew says, “The tuition I have received on how to read the game from these two rugby greats will be invaluable when playing against the best players from other countries. I hope that I can assist my adopted nation to promotion and make the country proud.”

Matthew has also ensured that all his exposure to top-flight rugby, both past and present, has been filtered down to the rugby community of JC. This year was the first time that Matthew has trialled the JC rugby academy and says that, “The idea was to get all age groups training at the same time to motivate, progress and showcase JC rugby talent within the school, and to allow my knowledge to be passed on to all of the JC rugby coaches as well as every age group. For the U19 rugby team, this also included extensive strength and conditioning programmes and a coaching pathway for students to refine their coaching abilities. I am really pleased with how it went and am looking to develop this next year.”

Matthew has also been selected in the UAE 7s rugby squad competing later in the year. The UAE is in the highest tier in the 7s format and will be the only non-fully professional team competing.