25 August 2023

Fijian Rugby Star Sam Matavesi Promoted to Leading Hand

Written by Carter-Humphries, Images by V Prasad

22 August 2023, Hazelwood, Sunbury on Thames.

The Royal Navy proudly announces the ‘battlefield promotion’ of renowned Fijian international, Sam Matavesi, to the rank of Local Acting Leading Hand. Exceptional dedication, unwavering commitment, and outstanding leadership displayed by Matavesi both on and off the field have earned him this incredible recognition from the Royal Navy.

The Cornish-born rugby player is no stranger to resilience and teamwork, and his stellar career in rugby is nothing short of exceptional. Being a member of the Royal Navy Elite Player Programme, Matavesi earned his first Royal Navy Rugby cap in 2017, and has earned 12 to date. He took the leap from Cornish Pirates to Premiership side Northampton Saints in 2019, having also been selected for the Fijian Rugby World Cup squad that same year. Since then, Matavesi has been named the UK Armed Forces Sportsman of the Year for 2020, helped Navy Rugby to win the Inter Service Championship by beating the Army at Twickenham in 2023, and has been called up to the Flying Fijians once again for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Sam Matavesi was awarded the promotion from Chair for the Royal Navy Rugby Union, Rear Admiral Steve Moorhouse. RAdm Moorhouse wanted to ‘recognise the characteristics of courage, commitment and self discipline that Sam shows for both the Fijian Rugby Team and for the Royal Navy’ as he presented Matavesi with his hooks.

RAdm Moorhouse said, ‘The promotion to Local Acting Leading Hand is an ambassadorial role to recognise the status the Royal Navy holds Sam in and cherish the support and commitment Sam shows to the Royal Navy’.

As a Leading Hand, Matavesi will undoubtedly inspire and motivate his fellow service personnel, with his unwavering determination and selfless dedication. His willingness to commit to both the rugby arena and the naval service showcases the transferable skills and spirit of excellence that he brings to every challenge he faces.

Sam Matavesi's remarkable story as a Fijian rugby sensation and as a Royal Navy Leading Hand, stands as a testament to his character, and embodiment of the Royal Navy's values. The Royal Navy congratulates Leading Hand Sam Matavesi on this remarkable achievement and eagerly anticipates the positive impact he will undoubtedly make in his new rank.

Sam said of the promotion, "I was very surprised. I knew some of the coaches from the Navy and some of the officers were coming up today. I thought they're just going to come to watch training and you know, have a look, how we do things but then I got promoted at the end!"

The Royal Navy wishes Sam and the rest of the Flying Fijians the best of luck, and great success at the Rugby World Cup 2023.