With back to back promotions Heath has stayed true to the commitment to rebuild its position as the leading rugby team in Mid Sussex.
With its lead coach having moved to Worthing Raiders at the end of last season, the interim coaching team at Heath - Peter Kerins and Huw Jenkins - have worked hard in both a playing and coaching capacity to keep Heath on track.
With some excellent results so far this season they have steered the team to a strong third position in the London 3 South East league. The Board at Heath has been committed to seeking out the right person to take Heath to the next stage both on and off the pitch and, following a rigorous selection process, has now appointed Matt Hawkes as lead coach of Heath 1st XV starting at the end of this current season.
Matt brings considerable rugby experience to Heath as a qualified RFU level 2 coach - he is close to completing level 3. A Physical Education teacher at Glyn School in Epsom, he is familiar with the challenges of mini and junior rugby and his experience as coach of England Women Students for three years from 2002 means that he will be looking to explore ways in which Heath can build on its status as a designated O2 ladies and mixed touch rugby centre.
During his 20+ year coaching career to date, Matt has worked with a number of clubs including Dorking and Ontario and is currently coach at Guildford 1st XV (National League 3 London & SE) and has been a Harlequins Academy Coach since 2015. In both these roles Matt has gained experience working alongside rugby professionals such as Quins back and former Heath mini and junior Ross Chisholm, Quins forward Dave Ward and the emerging England international Kyle Sinckler.
His impressive CV has the right mix of senior and youth rugby to allow him to contribute at all levels within Heath over the coming years and help young rugby players learn how to manage and develop their rugby careers, whatever level they aspire to.
Commenting on his appointment, Matt Hawkes says “I am delighted to be joining the team at Heath and can’t wait to start working with Peter and Huw and the whole 1st XV squad as they look to finish this season in style and prepare for next. Living in Mid Sussex it is a privilege to have this opportunity to coach the leading local community club and play a part in bringing high quality rugby to the local area.
"I am committed for the long term and hope to contribute to the vibrant and ambitious rugby agenda at the club, both on and off the pitch.”
Mark Newey, Chairman of Heath RFC added “We are very excited to have found the right man in Matt Hawkes and believe he has the skills, experience and personality to help us take the Club forward at all levels. Huge thanks to the guys who have been part of the transition team – we are putting plans in place to make sure they learn from Matt to fulfil their coaching ambitions.”