From Beveridge Park to Twickenham for Kirkcaldy rugby ace

Kirkcaldy's Matt Harvey in action in the Navy v Rugby match at Twickenham. Credit: Royal Navy Rugby Union / Alligin Photography
Kirkcaldy's Matt Harvey in action in the Navy v Rugby match at Twickenham. Credit: Royal Navy Rugby Union / Alligin Photography
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It’s a long way from playing in front of a few hundred spectators at Beveridge Park to an 80,000 sell-out at Twickenham.

But one Kirkcaldy rugby player has made this remarkable journey after starring in one of the biggest amateur sporting events in the world.

Matt Harvey was picked to play for the Royal Navy side in the annual Army v Navy rugby match, which took place at England’s home of rugby on Saturday.

The game was broadcast live on Sky Sports and watched by millions, while the capacity crowd was a world record attendance for the amateur game.

The Army won the match 30-17, but it was an unforgettable experience for the 28-year-old former Balwearie High School pupil.

“It was pretty special,” Matt told the Press.

“It’s something I’ve never experienced before, and the noise was incredible.

“It was definitely different to playing at Beveridge Park!”

Matt starting playing rugby aged four with the Wee Blues - the junior section of Kirkcaldy Rugby Club - before making his way through the age groups until he eventually took his place in the senior side.

Apart from a year in New Zealand, and a spell at Boroughmuir, Matt has spent his entire playing career with his home town side until he joined the Royal Navy in January last year, and moved to Plymouth.

“When I joined the Navy they approached me and asked if I had played any representative sport at any level,” he said.

“I told them I’d played for Scotland under 18s, and 19s, so I was asked along to the training camp and I got picked for the navy team.

“I’d watched the game against the army on TV in a pub last year and it looked amazing. I thought I had a good chance and was hoping for the opportunity.

“The squad wasn’t announced until last Monday so I didn’t know for definite but I’d played in all the games leading up to it, so I was fairly confident.

“When it was confirmed I was really excited and nervous, and it was an honour and privilege to be part of.

“I had lots of friends and family down so it was a really busy weekend - I don’t think it’s even sunk in yet!”

Matt is currently training to become a sub-mariner but he hopes to continue playing for the Navy rugby

“Later in the year the team is going to New Zealand to play in the Commonwealth Cup, and it would be great to be part of that,” he added.

The icing on the cake for Matt came after Saturday’s match when he was announced as the winner of the Cossack Sword - awarded to the Navy players’ player of the year.

Matt impressed all season, primarily as an abrasive blindside flanker but also, when called upon, as a very effective lock forward.

He is the first Navy player to win the award in his first season of representative rugby.

“I was humbled and honoured,” Matt said. “It’s just another thing to top off an amazing weekend.”