Championship club London Scottish have suddenly got a connection with Beyonce Knowles, the globally popular American singer and actress. Fresh from a season where the club finished ninth in the second tier after just four wins in 14 outings prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the Richmond-based Exiles have ramped up their coaching staff ahead of the 2020/21 season which has given them a link with American showbiz royalty.
Their new director of rugby is Matt Williams, who has been recruited from Chinnor, the outfit he took from the bottom half of National 2 towards the end of the 2013/14 season to promotion into National 1 in 2018/19, a level where they impressed over the winter.
That progress convinced them to recruit Williams, who grew up playing age-grade internationals at hooker for England before carving out a very different career away from rugby as he worked in the entertainment business alongside Beyonce, MTV and Disney while also producing several TV shows and movies.
Speaking about his breakthrough in the USA, Williams told the Rugby Journal last year about taking off to the States on a whim to try and make a success of a girl band he had put together in the UK. They led to his Beyonce connection.
“This was overnight and out of nowhere. They came from all around England, and I auditioned 200 girls to put the band together. I was so naive, I literally thought, ‘I’m going to put a girlband together because that sounds cool and sexy and I’ll put seven girls together because the Pussycat girls had five’. It was that naïve. I cast these girls, I got music for them, I choreographed them – I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but it worked…
“I knew nobody, so I picked up the phone, got on a plane and battered the door down until somebody listened to me. I was in New York with a CD and pictures of the girls and I got myself a meeting with an A&R administrator which to me sounded huge. It turned out to be nothing more than a secretary in a cloakroom, so I’m sitting in this room that’s literally 2m x 2m, playing this music, pretending to be really cool, and not realising that the person I’m meeting can do zero for me.
“But then by complete fluke this woman was administrating the I Am… Sasha Fierce album for Beyonce Knowles, and her dad, Mathew Knowles, comes storming in shouting ‘have you done this, have you done that’, and this lovely lady says to him, ‘this man has the UK’s Pussycat Dolls, you need to listen to it’.
“He pulled me up to the top floor of this building in New York, I walk into this floor that’s like a scene from a Hollywood movie – a huge open-plan room – he sits down, puts the music down, and says, ‘this is brilliant, I’m in’. And that was it. I only had six songs – written by a guy I’d found in the middle of Tottenham. He signs the girls, and moves them to Houston.”
Many years later, it’s a Championship level pitch in south-west London where Williams will now be looking to impress in a new partnership with ex-Scotland international Steve Scott, who came to the Exiles as forwards coach in 2019.
“I’m excited to be joining the Exiles as the club moves into the next chapter of its deep history and I’m looking forward to working with a coach with such a stellar CV as Stevie Scott,” said Williams after to the London Scottish website after his appointment.
“I’m under no illusions of the task ahead as we fight budget restrictions and the transition into semi-professional rugby, but in a world where we need excitement and happiness in our lives post Covid-19, I’m confident I can build a squad and culture that will make the Exiles’ family proud to support.”
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