Jack MatthewsJack Matthews


Jack Matthews, born on June 21, 1920, in Bridgend, South Wales, was not only a distinguished Welsh rugby union player but also a respected general practitioner. His early education at Bridgend County School was followed by medical training at the Welsh National School of Medicine. Apart from his medical and rugby commitments, Matthews was a capable athlete in track, achieving notable placements in Welsh AAA junior and senior events during the late 1930s.

Rugby Career

Matthews’ rugby career was marked by his prowess as a centre, playing for several notable clubs and the national team. His playing style was aggressive and effective, earning him the reputation of being a formidable tackler.

  • Clubs and Teams:
  • Bridgend RFC
  • Cardiff Medicals RFC
  • Cardiff RFC
  • Newport RFC
  • Army
  • Barbarian F.C.
  • Hampshire
  • International Career:
  • Wales: 17 caps (1947-1951)
  • British Lions: 6 caps (1950)

Matthews’ international rugby career was highlighted by his participation in the British & Irish Lions’ 1950 tour of New Zealand and Australia, demonstrating his skill on an international stage. Notably, his sporting career overlapped with his medical duties, often bringing his expertise as a doctor to the sports field.

Key Moments in His Sporting Life

  • World War II Service: His service in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the war where he also continued playing rugby.
  • Amateur Boxing: Matthews’ unique encounter with future boxing champion Rocky Marciano in 1943, where he impressively held Marciano to a draw.
  • Victory Internationals: Before his official international rugby debut, Matthews played in several Victory Internationals during and immediately following World War II, including captaining Wales against France.
  • Medical Role with Lions: Post-retirement, Matthews served as the team doctor for the 1980 British Lions tour to South Africa, blending his medical expertise with his passion for rugby.

Personal and Later Life Matthews married Valerie, and the couple had two sons. After his wife’s death in 1996, Matthews continued his involvement in sports, notably boxing, where he served as a medical officer. His contributions to rugby and medicine were recognized in 1981 when he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). His life was a testament to his resilience and dedication, both on and off the field.

Jack Matthews passed away on July 18, 2012, at the age of 92, leaving behind a legacy of sportsmanship and service that continues to inspire.

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