With one season cut short, Sarlat Rugby is hungry for the next chance to prove themselves on the rugby pitch. The upcoming season is on everyone’s mind, and as the Team prepares for it, they are adding new players to complement the tight-knit group staying on from the previous season. Last week Sarlat Rugby announced the arrival of a powerful Croatian center with Filip Perica; this week, we bring you a young promising scrum-half from South Africa: Matt Doyle.
At just 21, Matt Doyle not only has rugby in his blood, but has been molded by the best the South African rugby system has to offer. He joins Sarlat Rugby with his mind on the prize, advancing to the pro leagues. And he has the skill and drive to make it happen.
Raised on rugby: a promising career begins in South Africa
Any fan of rugby knows that South Africans are passionate rugby enthusiasts. The sport enjoys massive popularity there, and it has the educational and technical infrastructure to match. Yet Matt grew up torn between rugby and another great South African tradition: football (soccer). Trained from the very earliest age in both sports, at the age of 8, he had to make the tough choice of which sport to pursue in his training and education. Needless to say, he made the right choice!
Matt Doyle followed in the footsteps of his father, a huge Rugby fan who had himself played in his school days. Better yet, Matt soon found himself playing in the very same position his father had once played: #9, scrum-half. But Matt would take that dream and passion far further, all the way to France!
Before launching an international career, the dream of many a South African player, he had to finish his schooling. Starting with the very same prestigious all-boys rugby high school his father had attended (Wynberg Boys High school). There, students balanced a full courseload from 8 am to 2:30 pm with several hours of rugby training in the gym or field every day. A rhythm Matt embraced eagerly, but which also provided a bitter memory.
Matt was denied a chance to compete in the prestigious Craven Week tournament, held back from selection by an injury. A significant setback as the event attracts many recruiters, including the international ones Matt had his heart set on impressing. But that wouldn’t slow this scrum-half.
Early triumphs in South Africa paved a path to France
Despite the setback, Matt doubled down on his rugby ambitions. At 18, he was accepted for the highly coveted International Rugby Institute, a five-month program in the same facilities that the Springbok 7’s live and train in. At the outset of which, in what he describes as his best rugby memory, he was offered a spot on the U19 Cell C Sharks, one of the top teams in the country.
This was a crucial stepping stone to launching an international career, but also an achievement in and of itself. Especially because that year, with Matt on the field, the U19 Cell C Sharks team went on to win, undefeated, the Currie Cup. With the prestigious trophy under his belt, Matt was an attractive candidate for international clubs!
It would be the small Rugby Club Amiénois who would be fortunate enough to sign the dynamic scrum-half first and give Matt a taste for French rugby. There were a few shocks, like going from sunny South African weather to the rainy French north and adjusting to much smaller audiences on the field! Matt had played in front of audiences easily ten thousand strong while still in high school—playing for audiences of 500-1000 at Amiens was a big drop in noise! All the better to help him concentrate on his goals: proving himself and moving up the ranks of French rugby.
Unfortunately, his second season with Amien was cut short by, you guessed it, Covid-19. But by teaming up with Sarlat Rugby, Matt has guaranteed himself not just a chance to shine, but to actively rise into the professional leagues with the team.
New opportunities open for Matt Doyle with Sarlat Rugby
Matt just arrived in Sarlat, but already he says it feels more like home. The highly professional attitude of the team is a welcome change of pace, but one which is bolstered by a friendly and welcoming group of players and staff. The expansive playstyle they are working on in training is particularly appealing to him as well. He is looking forward to implementing it next season!
He has welcomed the change in climate, a stark difference from the north of France. It has allowed him to pursue some of his off-the-pitch passions for nature and biking. Though the confinement has also had him playing more video games than he might like, notably Call of Duty: Warzone. But hey, at least it’s good practice for the next tournament on FORMATION.GG.
His french is also improving rapidly, thanks in no small part to his French girlfriend who followed him from the north. But thanks to the Sarlat Rugby partnership with UNIQORN, he has been able to find more than gainful work. He is picking up a whole new set of valuable skills as International Sponsorship Coordinator for the Team. A professional experience that matches up well with his enthusiasm for international business, commerce, and investment. A world he could easily see himself pursuing in his post-rugby life, which, as he reminds any young readers, is always just one injury away.
Clearly, the Sarlat Rugby Team is more than just a stepping stone for Matt Doyle, but a unique opportunity for this promising young player. His goals and those of the Team are in perfect alignment, and he looks forward to helping the team reach the Pro D2 division over the next four to five years. An ambition he will be contributing to both on and off the pitch.