25 September 2021

Rugby club pays tribute to Met Police officer killed at custody centre

25 September 2021

The vice-chairman of the rugby club which former Metropolitan Police Sergeant Matiu “Matt” Ratana coached for has paid tribute to him ahead of a memorial event this weekend.

Matt Marriott, who is vice-chairman of East Grinstead Rugby Club in West Sussex, will mark Sgt Ratana’s anniversary during the first league game for the men’s first team since his death, as well as a welcome from a Maori contingent and a performance from soprano singer Joanna Forest.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mr Marriott said he hoped the day would be “full of smiles rather than tears”.

He said: “It was a year ago today that the president of the club and I gathered in my kitchen amongst floods of tears as we just heard the news. It’s been a tough year for us as a club.

“Today is the first game for our first team, they’re playing their first league game since he died, and we’re determined it’s going to be a celebration.

“Matt would be delighted about today. We’re determined to enjoy it to the full.”

Mr Marriott said Sgt Ratana was a “massive part” of the East Grinstead Rugby Club during his time as the coach for the senior men’s team.

He told BBC Breakfast: “He came in like a Kiwi bouncy ball full of vim and vigour. He was very difficult to contain.

“He always wanted the very best for his boys, he was like a dad to many of us. He was also an exceptional rugby coach.

Sgt Ratana was a rugby coach for many years (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

“He lived and breathed rugby, and that legacy really lives on. The boys have taken that to heart and I think they’re going to give it their all for Matt.

“I’m actually putting my boots on today for the first time for a long time, so I don’t know how I got roped into that, but I’m going to be remembering him too.”

The 54-year-old sergeant died after being shot in the chest as he prepared to search a handcuffed suspect at a police station in Croydon on September 25 2020.

The Metropolitan Police will hold a minute’s silence on Saturday at 11am to mark the incident and are planning to have special memorial service on Monday.

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