Richards coaches Tauhou XV for Matt Ratana Foundation

Dean Richards was at St Francis RFC last week, coaching the Tauhou XV against Sussex Blue Lights in aid of the Matt Ratana Foundation. 

The Matt Ratana Rugby Foundation was set up in response to the tragic death of police sergeant and rugby coach, Matt Ratana, who was killed whilst on duty on Friday 25 September 2020. 

All funds raised, support the design and delivery of school and community rugby initiatives, both nationally and internationally.

Their projects directly benefit disadvantaged young people from all backgrounds, and are aligned with, and inspired by, the values that Matt cherished and the ambitions he planned to realise. 

Gary Gordon of the Matt Ratana Foundation said: “We’re coaching around 550 kids a week in rugby, and our job now is to keep raising those funds and keep scaling up, whilst mentoring the kids through the ethos of rugby. 

“That’s what Matt would have wanted.” 

Serving with New Zealand Police, Matt joined the British High Commission Wing in 2003 – working in the Auckland City and Counties Manukau districts, before returning to the UK in 2008. 

Aside from his distinguished police service, Matt also worked tirelessly as a rugby coach and dedicated mentor to many young people. He spoke passionately to the teams he led on the importance of ‘Whānau’, the sacred Māori concept of family and community. 

“Grassroots rugby is what it’s all about,” said Richards, who has been deeply moved by the work that the foundation has done.

“The whole of the rugby community has been fantastic in their support.”

Richards was a police officer himself before moving into full-time rugby back in the 1990s. He also joined the resilience unit of the Northumbria Police during the 2020 lockdown to assist in the preparation of hundreds of pieces of personal protective equipment for use by front-line officers