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Memorial match at Sudbury Rugby Club raises almost £3,000 for St Nicholas Hospice Care in honour of late former player Matt Austin

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Sudbury Rugby Club players past and present laced up to pay a fitting tribute to a long-time friend and team-mate, who lost his battle with cancer last year.

A memorial charity rugby match drew supporters back to Whittome Field in Great Cornard at the end of August, for the first time in almost a year and a half due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The game, which pitted an ‘Old Boys’ XV against a team from the current Tigers and Talbots squads, was organised in honour of much-loved club alumnus Matt Austin, who died on May 16, 2020, at the age of 39.

Charity rugby match at Sudbury Rugby Club, in memory of former player Matt Austin. Photo credit: Jennie Stammers
Charity rugby match at Sudbury Rugby Club, in memory of former player Matt Austin. Photo credit: Jennie Stammers

After the Old Boys triumphed by a score of 41 to 19, a charity auction of memorabilia, such as signed boots, books and match shirts, including donations by former professional rugby player Sam Lockwood, raised a total of £2,490.

Added to the £5 donation paid by each player, the event collected nearly £3,000 for the benefit of St Nicholas Hospice Care.

Sudbury RFC honorary treasurer Matt Archer, who captained the Tigers XV for the fixture, described the day as “a very fitting occasion”.

Mr Archer also thanked co-organiser Ruth Hellier, fellow match-day captain Mathew Wooderson, shirt providers Haydn Hertz and CSS Rugby, and David Dunn for managing the kitchen.

“Not only was it the first full game of rugby union for nearly a year and a half, but it was an amazing occasion to remember our dear friend Matt Austin, who sadly died after a short illness last year,” he said,

“The game, in reality, was not why we were there and I’m sure most enjoyed their time on the field,” he said. “What was important was to remember our mate and this was done in fine form.

“It was truly an amazing day and it was so heartening to see people back at our club again.”

During the event, Mr Archer presented Matt’s number 8 shirt to his wife, Claire, while new club shirts were gifted to Matt’s children, Phoebe and Elliot.

He confirmed there are also discussions for holding an annual Matt Austin cup game in future, and that the Tigers will wear the tag ‘MA8’ on their sleeves in his honour.

Claire Austin added: “The memorial rugby match was such an incredible and emotional day for us.

“Just to see so many people in attendance, all to remember Matt, felt very special to me and his children.”

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