Former Leicester Tigers and England centre Mathew Tait has been named as the 2019 recipient of the RPA Special Merit Award to be presented at the upcoming RPA Players' Awards, on Wednesday 8th May at Twickenham Stadium.
The 33-year-old who retired from professional rugby in February after 15 years in the sport will join a distinguished list of former winners, including Jason Leonard, Martin Johnson, Lawrence Dallaglio, Jason Robinson and Will Greenwood, who have been recognised for their outstanding contribution to the game in England.
The talented back who burst onto the international scene at the age of 18, went on to win 38 caps for his country, including playing a key role in England's 2007 World Cup campaign, as England’s player of the final. He also won a silver medal with the England 7s team at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
Throughout an exceptional club career, Mathew made 143 appearances for the Leicester Tigers, including winning the Premiership title in 2013, reaching the European Cup semi-final in 2016 and captaining the club to its Anglo-Welsh Cup victory in 2017. He also enjoyed successful spells with the Newcastle Falcons and Sale Sharks.
During his final season, Mathew served on the RPA Players' Board as Leicester's elected Player Representative.
Special Merit Award winner, Mathew said: "I am truly humbled and privileged to receive this award and would like to thank the RPA Players' Board for this incredible honour. I have been extremely lucky to have enjoyed a career at three great clubs, represented my country, and made so many amazing memories which I can take with me into my retirement and my next chapter."
RPA Group CEO, Damian Hopley, said: "Mat has been one of the outstanding professionals in our sport for the last 15 years and it is testament to his incredible commitment and dedication that he has made such a positive impact on the game. As one of the most talented outside-backs of his generation and regarded as an excellent role model off the pitch, it's an enormous honour for the Players' Board to pay tribute to his exceptional career with the 2019 Special Merit Award."
The RPA Special Merit Award recognises an outstanding contribution to the game in England, as voted by the RPA Players' Board.
The RPA Players' Awards 2019 takes place on Wednesday 8th May at the home of English rugby, Twickenham Stadium. To book one of the last remaining places, please call 020 3053 6670 or email Martin Olima on firstname.lastname@example.org.