Matthew John Hamilton STEVENS
England Caps: 44 (24-0-20)
England Points: 0
England Debut: v New Zealand (rep) 2004
British & Irish Lions: 2005 (Arg/NZ)
Lions Debut: 04/06/05 v Bay of Plenty
Test Record v Australia: 2 (1-0-1)
Matt Stevens has been enticed out of international retirement to make a second tour with the British & Irish Lions. He played six times on the 2005 tour to New Zealand. Born and raised in South Africa, he earned representative honours for Western Province, South African Universities and the Junior Springboks at Under 18 and Under 19 level, before deciding to move to England to pursue his university studies. He obtained a BSc in Politics and Economics from Bath University and, having joined Bath in September, 2002, worked hard enough to earn five appearances as a replacement at the end of his first season. A British passport holder, he played for England U21 in the 2003 IRB Junior World Cup and then enjoyed a meteoric rise into the England strata. He made his Test debut against New Zealand as a replacement on the 2004 summer tour and his first England start came against Ireland in the 2005 RBS 6 Nations. He played in seven games at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, including the final against South Africa when he replaced skipper Phil Vickery.
Equally at home on either side of the scrum, he helped Bath reach the Amlin Challenge Cup final in 2007 and win the title in 2008. His career was almost destroyed in January, 2009 when he failed a drugs test and received a two-year ban. Having made 74 league and 40 European appearances for Bath, he made his return from suspension with Saracens, who signed him half-way through his lay-off. He helped them become English champions in 2011 and to reach the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup this season.
He returned rugby in February, 2011, and was back in England colours for the Saxons’ at the Churchill Cup in June. He was back in the senior England side two months later in the Rugby World Cup warm-up match against Wales at Twickenham and then appeared in 11 of the subsequent 12 Tests. A shoulder injury forced him to miss the summer tour to South Africa in 2012 and in August that year, after 44 caps, he announced his international retirement to allow him focus his efforts on club rugby and his young family.