50 MATCHES AND COUNTING: Celebrating the Excellence of Free Jacks’ Head Coach Scott Mathie

by | Jun 22, 2024 | Blog, Featured News, News | 0 comments

Image featuring: Scott Mathie, Free Jacks Head Coach

50 MATCHES AND COUNTING: Celebrating the Excellence of Free Jacks’ Head Coach Scott Mathie

Reaching another significant milestone in his career, New England Free Jacks’ head coach, Scott Mathie will coach his 50th Major League Rugby match today against NOLA Gold. From the beginning of his time with the Free Jacks, Coach Mathie has embodied the team’s core values of hard work, hunger, humility, and fun. His competitive spirit and commitment to excellence resonate deeply within the entire Free Jacks organization. Despite his achievements and being christened “The Giant Killer,” Mathie remains humble, focusing on the success of his players, the team, and the New England rugby community.

Image featuring: Scott Mathie at Veterans Memorial Stadium

Scott Mathie was born in Durban, South Africa, where he began his rugby journey as a scrumhalf. After graduating from the prestigious Durban High School and being named to the South Africa U19 squad, Mathie went to the University of Pretoria where he studied Journalism and continued his rugby career with the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup. Working his way into one of the top squads in South Africa, Mathie made 16 appearances for the Bulls and scored 15 points. During Mathie’s time with the club, the Blue Bulls were Currie Cup Champions in 2003 and 2004. 

In the Fall of 2005, Mathie returned to his old stomping grounds of Durban and debuted with the Sharks in the Currie Cup the following year. Facing setbacks from injuries and competing for a starting spot against Springbok scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, Mathie decided to head to the Northern Hemisphere for a new opportunity with Leeds Carnegie in the English Championship.

Image featuring: Scott Mathie at Veterans Memorial Stadium

With the Yorkshire-based side, Mathie won promotion to the English Premiership after his first season in 2008. He went on to play two more seasons with Leeds, making 59 appearances and scoring 20 points. After facing relegation in his final season at Leeds, the Sale Sharks signed Mathie in the transfer window, keeping the scrumhalf in the Premiership for another year. 

Returning home to South Africa in 2012, Mathie signed with the Eastern Province Kings of Port Elizabeth. 23 appearances later in October of 2013, Mathie decided to hang up the boots and continue his immensely successful rugby pathway as a coach and educator. In his new roles as 1st XV Head Coach, Director of Rugby, and History Teacher at his alma mater, Durban High School, Mathie provided players and students alike with strong educational values. His teaching and coaching background gave expertise to the next generation of players at Durban Collegians Rugby Club as 1st XV Backs Coach and the Sharks’ age-grade programs. His huge commitment to local rugby was noticed by Griquas’ coach Brent Ranse van Rensburg of the Currie Cup who gave him the coaching call-up in 2019 as Assistant Coach. Nine months later, Scott Mathie was promoted to Head Coach, where he was named “The Giant Killer” after leading his side to electrifying victories over Super Rugby-level opponents.

Image featuring: Scott Mathie and members of the 2018 Durban High School Rugby Team

In September of 2021, Scott Mathie was appointed as Head Coach of the New England Free Jacks for the following year and beyond, marking a new chapter in his career. His move to Major League Rugby presented the opportunity to coach players from all over the world. In his first match with the Free Jacks, Mathie commanded the team to a 24-13 victory on the road versus NOLA Gold. In 2022, Mathie’s Free Jacks broke an MLR record with 10 consecutive wins, pushing them to the top of the Eastern Conference and finishing the season with a 13-4 record. Mathie was named MLR Coach of the Year after his first season in New England. 

In 2023, Mathie doubled down on his success from the previous season and improved the Free Jacks’ record to a whopping 16-2. In the Eastern Conference final, the Free Jacks blew out Old Glory DC in a 25-7 win at home, with Mathie leading New England to their first-ever MLR Championship. The Free Jacks traveled to Chicago to face Western Conference Champions, the San Diego Legion, in the MLR Championship Final. After 80 minutes of neck-and-neck attacking rugby, New England rose to victory as Le Roux Malan scored the legendary winning try in the 76th minute to crown the Free Jacks 2023 MLR Champions.

Image featuring: Scott Mathie after winning rhe 2023 MLR Championship

After bringing home the Free Jacks’ first MLR Shield, Mathie made it clear to the Free Jacks’ faithful that the work ethic shown in his previous successful seasons would continue in 2024. Along with Free Jacks’ GM Tom Kindley, Mathie retained over half of the 2023 Championship-winning squad to play in 2024. With over a dozen new players assimilating into their new environment, Mathie’s humble, hard-working, hungry, and fun core values quickly played into effect and put the Free Jacks on top of the Eastern Conference early in the season. Season-ending injuries of stalwart Free Jacks gave opportunity to new players scooped onto the roster from competitions spanning all over the globe. 

Overcoming the challenges faced early in the season, the Free Jacks have remained at the top of the Eastern Conference with a 10-4 record and were the first team in the East to clinch a playoff spot for another chance at an MLR title. Overall, Mathie boasts a remarkable 39-10 record for the Free Jacks, with his teaching and tutoring style of coaching translating to an 80% win percentage. Additionally, he coached flyhalves Beaudein Wa’aka and Jayson Potroz to receive Player of the Year honors in 2022 and 2023, showcasing his ability to develop top talent. 

Image featuring: Scott Mathie at Veterans Memorial Stadium

 Beyond the pitch, Scott Mathie has made a significant impact on the local New England rugby community. Investing time and energy into developing grass-roots talent, Mathie assisted Community and Academy Manager Thomas Grant in the Development of an Under-18 tour to Kutztown and conducted December camps for club and collegiate players. Scott Mathie and Thomas Grant also initiated the 2024 Coaching Series, aimed at enhancing community coaching standards. 

As the Free Jacks prepare for the upcoming playoffs and face NOLA Gold in his 50th MLR match as coach, Mathie’s focus remains on guiding the team to continued success, sustaining the team’s winning culture, and further contributing to the rugby community. On a personal note, Scott, his wife Leigh, and his son Jackson are eagerly anticipating the arrival of their second child. 

Image featuring: Scott Mathie after Winning the 2023 MLR Eastern Conference Final

The New England Free Jacks take on NOLA Gold on the road at 6 p.m. EST. The match will be broadcast on FS2 and The Rugby Network

For more opportunities to engage with the Free Jacks community, stay updated on future Free Jacks matches, festivals, and announcements through the Free Jacks’ news page: www.freejacks.com/news

Written By:

Colin Elliott

Staff Writer, Intern, @ New England Free Jacks

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