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Matt Toomua - Rugby
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BeRugby’s Big Interview – with Matt Toomua

Matt Toomua currently plays for Leicester Tigers in The Premiership. The Australian playmaker has represented his country 33 times but moved to England in 2016 to join the Tigers. He played for the Brumbies between 2008 and 2016 and has also represented Western force.

Matt Toomua rugby

Jonah gets his interview on with Matt

Our competition winner Jonah from Chichester RFC helped us interview the Australia and Leicester Tigers star as part of his prize! See his interview below as our first young reporter. 

BeRugby Magazine – Hi Matt thanks for talking to us today. Where did your rugby playing start?

Matt Toomua – I grew up in Brisbane Australia and started playing rugby at 6 years old. I played for the Brumbies and Western Province but when I was young I supported the Reds.

BRM – What do you eat before a big game?

MT – I eat plenty the night before and sometimes I have two dinners. On the day of the game I just eat to hunger. Not much to be honest just some vegemite on toast or a banana.

BRM – Do you have any pre-match rituals or superstitions?

MT – I don’t have any superstitions like putting my left boot on first or anything. I go through a few processes to get ready but no real routine. I listen to various playlists depending on my mood.

BRM – What is your favourite ground to play on?

MT – Few places can beat a full Newlands Park in Cape Town. Exciting place to play. Obviously, Welford Road. I have to say that, but it is honestly one of the best grounds in the world.

BRM – You are organising the club tour. Where do you go and why?

Matt Toomua - Rugby

Matt ponders over who has the best haircut at Leicester Tigers

MT – I would probably take them on a café hunting tour. Like a pub crawl but with coffee.

BRM – We weren’t expecting that answer!

MT – Yeah, I’m a bit of an expert in the area of coffee, it’s the rugby players new thing. I would pick Melbourne as its full of great cafes and places to hang out and drink coffee.

BRM – If you could use one word to describe the great game of rugby, what would it be?

MT – A test. It’s a test of character and a test of skill. You learn lessons from it.

BRM – What advice would you give to a young rugby player who wants to go professional?

MT – I didn’t go well in rugby until I was a little older and I wasn’t getting picked. I stuck with training and worked hard and it paid off. Sometimes I felt like not playing but I stuck at it and didn’t give up.

BRM – What song do all the Leicester Tigers players know and have to sing on the tour bus?

MT – I think the favourite is Sweet Caroline cos that gets everyone going.

BRM – Who is the most lively/energetic player in the squad?

MT – I would probably say Ellis Genge. He pumps everyone up and screams out all sorts of things before the games.

BRM – Who has the craziest hairstyle?

MT – Probably Dan Cole. He has lack of hair. He has more in his ears than on his head.

BRM – What is the best thing about training?

MT – When its finished! I think it’s the kicking the ball around with your mates. It’s pretty tough most of the time though.

BRM – Who do you think will win the Six Nations and why?

MT – I’m probably going to sit on the fence and say England or Ireland. They both play well under pressure.


Fun Fact – Matt is married to Ellyse Perry who plays cricket and football for the Australian national sides. Now that is a talented couple!


Matt Toomua rugbyMatt Toomua Factfile

Born – 2nd January 1990 in Melbourne, Australia

Height – 182cm

Weight – 91kgs

Position – Fly half/inside centre.

Test Debut – Australia v New Zealand 2013

Many thanks to Matt Toomua and all those at Leicester Tigers who gave us an awesome day full of fun, food and rugby!


These great photos were taken by Moments by Mimi Photography. Check her out on Facebook. Here are some more of the day.

Rugby and Autism
Latest News & Articles, Youth Rugby

Rugby and autism. An incredible story.

Life of an Autism Rugby Mum

This is a little insight into how autism in my family has affected me and how I have the amazing support from my rugby family.

Life is hard. So hard. At times I don’t even know how I survive. People often ask me what it is like being a mother of an autistic child and how I’m dealing with the fact my youngest is also going through the process of being diagnosed. In reply I just say to them that I know of no other life, so how can I possibly say anything different.

When I first got his diagnosis I cried. In fact I sobbed. I could not quite believe what I was hearing. After years of fighting, years of being told it was down to our parenting skills, years of being told I was looking for an excuse for his behaviour, somebody believed me, somebody realised I was not making it up, somebody had recognised Ellis had a disability. I cannot actually describe the feeling I was experiencing as there was so many going through me, but one thing I did feel was vindicated.Rugby and Autism

Throughout the course of Ellis being diagnosed, my friendship circle changed dramatically, to a point where I have lost close friends for various reasons. Before I had children I was what you would call a social butterfly. How life has changed since then! As a parent of a child with autism, you see the world in a different perspective. You become more attune to situations and you see things in many different ways. However one of the most difficult things to deal with as a parent is the way people in society handle him and his difficulties, and to be honest it’s heart breaking. They have no clue. I have wondered to myself why I as a mother have to feel sorry for my son because of people’s ignorance. I then stand back and realise it’s not him I feel sorry for; it’s them. They don’t know this beautiful, intelligent, creative, athletic young man known as Ellis. They haven’t come to know him for the boy he actually is, and for the young man he’s slowly changing into. However, if there is just one wish I could have for him, it would be that Ellis ​​and his autism be understood, and not ridiculed. Autism is an invisible disability, which means that just because you can’t see it, does not mean that it is not there, and I understand that not everybody is going to ‘get it’, but what I don’t understand is the lack of empathy that is shown, especially when it is obvious Ellis is in difficulty, and cannot self-regulate his emotions.

I suppose by writing this I’m asking just one thing. I’m asking you to please imagine what it is like on a daily basis as autism parents dealing with the anxiety, the depression, the wanting to self-harm, the feeling he isn’t good enough, the calling of names like ‘Freak’ and having to deal with the fall out, the refusal to leave the house when it comes to doing daily family activities because his anxiety is so high, the many a sleepless night, the tears and the tantrums, the fights and the arguments, the walking on eggshells, the threat of phone calls being made home because your son has been excluded because he can’t cope. I’m asking you for just a little bit of understanding. I’m asking you if next time you see a parent struggle, don’t walk on by, please ask if they need help. You never know…you could end up being that parent’s saviour. Every day is a battle because there is a lack of awareness of what autism is and the variations of it, which means there is a lack of empathy and understanding, which impacts on the fact that there is a lack of acceptance. This has got to change; the sooner the better.  

Rugby and AutismEvery day is always a difficult for us. If I have not cried more than twice in the day…it is a good day. However through all these difficulties, there are people who have never left us. In fact our circle of friends has grown because of it. These people have one thing in common with us…rugby. These people are our rugby family

The rugby family we have is amazing. His grassroots coaches at Littleborough RUFC, Sam Dickinson and Gaz Sharrocks, just ‘get’ him so therefore support him in every way possible. This has been able to happen because of the positive relationship that Ellis has managed to build and develop over the years with them. As parents this has also helped us develop friendships within the club, because when Ellis feels safe and secure, we feel safe and secure. Safe and secure in knowing we have a ‘family’ who will continually support us, who shares their kindness that goes above and beyond to what we expect, making us feel truly blessed to be involved with such a great club. We know we can go and talk to any member of the club, and feel supported, even on our darkest days.

Rugby and AutismSecondly his community coaches from Sale Sharks, Vicky Irwin, Ellis Greenwood and Simon Leather do amazing work with him. I’ve seen such a change in him because of them. He is involved with them on a fortnightly basis, taking part on the autism project they run called ‘Play On’. They are developing his communication, social and emotional needs, as well as teaching him in how to stay healthy and keep himself safe. Therefore, because of Ellis being given this opportunity to become involved in a great initiative, I have met some amazing people through the Sale Shark Community Team, and I know that whenever I need help, they are only a phone call away. We have made friends for life. We have been given opportunities that we would never thought was possible. We’ve also made solid friends with people in similar circumstances that understand the difficulties we face.

Both adults and children in the rugby family just accept him for who he is, not just a little boy with autism, but they have accepted him as Ellis. Autism is part of him, it what makes Ellis, Ellis, and we are all proud of him as I’m sure his coaches are.

There is a positive side of being an autism mum. The problems and difficulties he faces every day is mind blowing, but the resilience you see in him dealing with them is just breath taking, and he spurs me on to be the best mum I can be with the help and support from our rugby family. With their continued support, I will keep pushing forward, keep moving forward. I’ve learnt that even on the darkest of days, I just need to pick myself up, dust myself off, and keep going, because I have this support.  I’m not going to sugar coat it, there are days I just want to throw my hands in the air and completely give up, because some days I’m so worn down, so frustrated, so exhausted, so defeated, but what mother would I be if I allowed this to happen?  I’ve been fighting against systems, policies, procedures and people for so long, I can’t possibly stop now… and I won’t.  So I will continue to look at Ellis and his resilience to life, I will put on my happy face and say to myself ‘Everything is going to be O.K’ and with my friends and my rugby families behind me, I know this is true. 

#autisminrugbyworks                                                          #autismisbeautiful

(Thanks to Lisa for sharing this personal yet inspiring story. This really shows how rugby can help those from all walks of life. Our best wishes to Lisa, Ellis and Littleborough RUFC for the many seasons to come)

Rugby Mum
BeRugby Blog

The life of a rugby mum. Episode 10

I must be mad! Its ok I can hear all that know me wholeheartedly agreeing with that statement because it is a fact! But let me explain why in this particular instance.

We all know I love rugby and we all know I love ‘my boys’ as I affectionately refer to our first team. Well because of my love for both I decided in my infinite wisdom to arrange for the kids to carry out a guard of honour.  When I suggested that I do this I wasn’t aware just how much I would end up stressing over it!

You see our first team had a big quarter final game against Royston RFC in the National Junior Vase, and if they get through to the final they end up playing at the hallowed ground of Twickenham – no pressure lads! As this was a home game I wanted to do something nice for them that brought the club together.


ARFC 2028

So, many emails later nagging coaches to email parents we had an amazing 20 mini’s turn out to do an accompanied run on with the boys!

Also watching the game was a ‘Rugby Dad’ of one of the first team players!  He came up with the slogan for this photo ‘AFRC 2028’!  Richard it’s the best! Even when your kids are grown up, you’re still their Rugby Mum or Dad, that will never change, I had an insight of what is to come!

Isaac was a little star struck as he got to run on with our team Captain Rhys, who is also our scrum half the position Isaac aspires to play in!  Well you can imagine his reaction when Rhys scored a try! When the final whistle went, and we had won 20-5, I think he deserved a new accolade of ‘Supporter of the Match’! He really did get behind the team, no complaints

Rugby mum

Captain/Scrum Half Rhys Fussell in action with a strong pack!

about the weather just 100% support and enthusiasm, oh and a bit of pitch side coaching!  His passing comment as we left was “Can we come to the next home game please Mum?” – I can see me being in the dog house for spending too much time at the rugby!

Unfortunately, this was the only rugby for us this weekend as mini’s training was cancelled due to poor weather and pitch conditions, the photo doesn’t show how muddy they got, this was the first half, it was a mud bath quite soon after.

So, a rare Sunday morning lay in for me, and I made the most of it!  Fingers crossed for some mini’s rugby next week, I’ve already been roped in to agreeing to watch the firsts again!


Rugby Mum
BeRugby Blog

The life of a rugby mum. Episode 9

First of all, let me start by wishing you all a very Happy New Year! It feels like forever since I shared my last musings on life as a rugby Mum and as you can imagine a lot has happened in that time. The most obvious being Christmas and New Year but we also had Remembrance Sunday, my college course started ‘proper’ and that thing called life!

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Canterbury Rugby
Latest News & Articles

Canterbury stash. We just love it!

The guys at Canterbury are so proud of their clothing that they sent us some to try out and review.

We received a pair of adult England shorts, an adult England rugby shirt as well as one of their vapo-dry adult t-shirts. We were also lucky to get a junior England shirt as well as junior England tracksuit bottoms and training tops. At first sight it all seemed to be top stash. Lucky us!

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Rugby Mum
BeRugby Blog

The life of a Rugby Mum – Episode 8

Well following a lovely week in the sun in Lanzarote my rugby dude was away to Thanet Wanderers RFU this week and boy was I feeling the difference in the weather!

We spent much of our time discussing our various ways of keeping warm whilst watching our respective rugby kids! It was established that we have various grades of coat, this ranges from the lightweight waterproof, all the way through to the heavy duty all weather, furry hooded, fleece lined kind of coat that resembles a sleeping bag!

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Leicester Tigers Rugby
Latest News & Articles

Possibly the best kids rugby competition ever!

Competition Time! BeRugby and Leicester Tigers have teamed up to offer our readers an amazing opportunity.

One lucky reader will get to join us at Welford Road, the home of Leicester Tigers, where you will help us to  interview a player. This will definitely be a day to remember. We will take photos to record the whole experience, plus there will be stash and autographs for you to collect and remember the day by. As if that isn’t enough we will them publish your interview in BeRugby magazine for you to read and keep forever.

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Rugby Mum
BeRugby Blog

The life of a Rugby Mum – Episode 7

I’ve started drafting this blog three times now, let’s hope it’s third time lucky! I was going to rant about the recent suggestion that contact rugby be banned in schools, I ended up boring myself, I think we all know what my opinion is. Then I started writing about how I’d been roped in to help at the club and that was turning into a whinge and I don’t do moaning, so I sent both those drafts to the trash. Let’s face it there’s enough doom and gloom in the world without me adding to it by moaning.

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Rugby Mum
BeRugby Blog

The life of a rugby mum. Episode 6.

So, the 2017/18 season is well and truly underway!  It feels so good to be back, although time off was good, I do miss the rugby crowd when we’re not there.

This season is going to be a bit strange for me because I have decided to embark on a new venture, a venture which was inspired by my rugby dude and my amazing sports therapist, Erin Rose, I am going to be training as a Sports Therapist.

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