|Full name||Matthew John Ridge|
27 August 1968 |
Rotorua, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
|Height||181 cm (5 ft 11 in)|
|Weight||92 kg (14 st 7 lb)|
|1990–96||Manly Sea Eagles||122||32||477||11||1093|
|Source: yesterdayshero.com.au, nrlstats.com|
Matthew John Ridge (born 27 August 1968) is a New Zealand television presenter as well as a former All Black, and international rugby league captain. He moved from rugby union to the professional New South Wales Rugby League in 1990 with the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles (with whom he won the 1996 ARL Premiership), and later captained the New Zealand Warriors. He is now best known for his mischievous antics alongside his partner Marc Ellis in various TV shows like Game of Two Halves and Marc & Matthew's Rocky Road to....
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Matthew John Ridge was born in Rotorua, on 27 August 1968. He at first played "a lot of tennis" and also soccer in under-13 grades, but by the time he finished his schooling at Auckland Grammar School (having also done four years at Mount Albert Grammar School), he was a regular selection in Auckland age-group rugby union teams, and had been a member of the New Zealand Secondary Schools side in 1986.
Rugby union career
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In 1988, a few weeks before his 19th birthday, he made his first-class rugby union début for the New Zealand Colts and picked up one late-season appearance for Auckland, where he made a good impression in a pressure match with Canterbury. He became a key player in the powerful Auckland side of the time and gained a reputation as a fearless player and deadly accurate goal kicker. Ridge was selected for the All Blacks in 1989 for the British tour, along with a number of other new players. The team completed the 14-match tour unbeaten. Ridge played six of the lesser matches but was never in contention for the test team, as the full-back position belonged to John Gallagher who was playing exceptionally well. Despite his second-string status, he was regarded as a player who had fully justified his selection. The form of Gallagher as All Black full back (named World Player of the Year for 1989), meant frustration for Ridge who faced the prospect of several years before he could unseat Gallagher.
When the coach of the New South Wales Rugby League's Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles club, New Zealander Graham Lowe, offered the chance to switch codes, Ridge signed. Within a week of his signing, Gallagher too announced that he had signed a million-dollar contract with English rugby league club Leeds, and the All Blacks lost two world-class full-backs. This was a time of several high-profile converts from rugby union coming to the NSWRL, and there was a great deal of doubt about how they would fare.
Rugby league career
Despite never having played a game of rugby league in his life, Ridge was signed by the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles and their Kiwi coach Graham Lowe to play in the New South Wales Rugby League's Winfield Cup competition from 1990. Ridge made his debut at fullback for the Sea Eagles in their Round 10 clash with Cronulla at Manly's home ground, Brookvale Oval. He became the team's first choice goal kicker ahead of dual rugby international and Sea Eagles captain Michael O'Connor and part-time kicker Mal Cochrane when he kicked 6/7 in his first game helping 10th placed Manly to a 28–8 win over the 3rd placed Sharks. Ridge ended the 1990 season as Manly's leading point scorer with 94 points (2 tries, 43/57 goals) in 11 games.
Just six games into his Manly career, Ridge played his first rugby league test for New Zealand against the touring Great Britain Lions. In his first league international on 8 July 1990 at the Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland, Ridge kicked 5 goals as the Kiwis went down 16–14 in front of 7,843 fans. He backed this up a week later with another 6 goal performance in helping New Zealand to a 21–18 win over the Lions in Christchurch.
Despite good form for Manly in 1991, Ridge missed selection for the mid-season Trans-Tasman Test series against Australia due to a dispute over compensation between Manly and the New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL). This same dispute also saw several other Winfield Cup-based Kiwis miss selection including Daryl Halligan (North Sydney), John Schuster (Newcastle) and Kurt Sherlock (Eastern Suburbs).
Ridge's 'defection' from rugby union to rugby league was made into a video documentary called In a Different League for New Zealand television. It was hosted and narrated by his friend and former All Black team mate John Kirwan who himself would later (in 1995) switch to league with the Auckland Warriors. The documentary, which was released in 1991, showed Ridge's early days with Manly and his introduction to rugby league test football with the New Zealand team.
After an injury interrupted 1992 season where Ridge regained his place as the New Zealand fullback for the two tests against the touring Great Britain Lions, the 1993 season started solidly until he was sidelined for the rest of the year after suffering a knee injury. The injury saw him miss selection for the mid-season Trans-Tasman series against Australia as well as the end of year Kiwi tour of Great Britain and France.
Ridge returned to form in 1994, playing 23 games for Manly and scoring 234 points (5 tries, 106/132 goals) for the season. He also regained the Kiwi #1 jumper when he was selected for the two tests against Papua New Guinea in October.
Ridge played and kicked goals in each of the 1995 Trans-Tasman Test series' three games against Australia, though the Kiwis lost the series 0–3 (in fact, he did not miss a kick during the series). Ridge, whose courage was never in question on the field, was knocked out attempting to tackle powerfully built Australian winger Rod Wishart in the first half of the final test at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, won 46–10 by Australia.
Ridge finished the 1995 ARL season as the League's top point-scorer with a club record 257 points (11 tries, 106 goals and 1 field goal), breaking Graham Eadie's record of 242 points (14 tries (3 points each) and 100 goals) set in 1975. At the end of the season he played for the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at fullback in their 4–17 Grand final loss against the Sydney Bulldogs. In the post-season Ridge captained the New Zealand team at the 1995 Rugby League World Cup in England and Wales. The Kiwis finished the World Cup in third place, losing a hard fought extra-time Semi-final 20–30 to Australia in Huddersfield.
Despite playing for an ARL aligned club, Ridge (along with team mates Ian Roberts and Owen Cunningham) signed with Super League during 1995 at the height of the Super League war. Ridge initially sat out the start of the 1996 ARL season, but was persuaded to play out his contract with Manly (which he was in the last season of) by coach Bob Fulton. It turned out to be a blessing for both Manly and Ridge who rejoined the team in Round 9. With Ridge's experience at fullback, as well as his accurate goal kicking, the Sea Eagles played their way into their second successive Grand Final, where they defeated the St George Dragons 20–8 at the Sydney Football Stadium. Ridge was in doubt in the week leading up to the Grand Final after being concussed in Manly's 24–0 win a week earlier against Cronulla, but was able to take his place in the side.
Ridge was involved in a controversial play just before half time of the 1996 ARL Grand Final. He caught the Dragons unaware when he put in a short kick off following a St George penalty goal and managed to regather the ball. He was then tackled by Dragons Hooker Nathan Brown (who only used one arm), but was allowed by referee David Manson to get up and keep running without playing the ball despite protests from Saints players who believed the tackle had been completed. He was eventually tackled 10 metres from the line and dummy-half Nik Kosef passed Neil Tierney who offloaded back to Kosef before the ball went to Steve Menzies who scored a try next to the goal posts. With Ridge's successful conversion, Manly went into the half time break with a match winning 14–2 lead.
Matthew Ridge had scored 1,093 points in 122 first grade games for Manly between 1990 and 1996 (32 tries, 477/599 goals @ 79.63%, 11 Fg), putting him 3rd on the all-time Sea Eagles point scorers list behind Bob Batty (1,154 from 1959–71) and Graham Eadie (1,917 from 1971–83), both of whom were also fullbacks (Ridge's total has since been bumped to 4th place with current (2016) Manly captain Jamie Lyon having scored 1,294 points for the club since 2007). Along the way he established the Sea Eagles single season point scoring record (257 in 1995), and points in a match against record against Western Suburbs in 1996 at Brookvale Oval he equaled Ron Rowles' single game point scoring record when he scored 30 points (2 tries, 11 goals). Rowles had set his record against Canterbury-Bankstown in 1954, also at Brookvale. Ridge's record equaling game against Wests was in celebration of Manly's 50th season in the league, with Manly having played Wests at Brookvale in their first ever game in 1947.
Ridge spent the 1997 Super League season as captain of the Auckland Warriors, though injuries kept him to just 9 games. In 1998 he wrote an autobiography with Angus Gillies "Take No Prisoners" (Hodder Moa Beckett, 1998). He continues as captain of the Warriors in the 1998 NRL season. For the first half of the 1999 Auckland Warriors season, Ridge was captain of the side. He scored 238 points in 37 first grade games for the New Zealand Warriors between 1997 & his retirement in 1999 (8 tries, 103 goals).
At the time of his retirement he was the all-time top scorer in international matches for the New Zealand Kiwis with 168 points (6 tries, 71 goals) from 25 test appearances. He finished his rugby league club career with 1,331 points (40 tries, 582/723 goals @ 80.22%, 11 field goals) from 159 games (Manly 122, Auckland 37), an average of 8.37 points per club game.
Ridge later became best known for his mischievous antics alongside his partner Marc Ellis in various sports-related television shows like 'Game of Two Halves', and 'Marc & Matthew's Rocky Road to ...'; appearances in reality television shows, and gossip columns .
Over the years Matthew Ridge has been linked to a string of high-profile women including his first wife Sally Ridge, an interior designer and television presenter for TVNZ's Homefront, with whom he has a daughter, Jaime, and son, Boston; Nicky Watson, former underwear model and ex-wife of millionaire Eric Watson; Keita Nobilo, heiress to the famed New Zealand wine label Nobilo; Rebecca Loos, the former personal assistant of English football player David Beckham who allegedly had an affair with the married Beckham (Ridge and she met while Ridge was the host of 'Treasure Island: Pirates of the Pacific' a reality TV show in which Loos was a contestant); and most recently singer Carly Binding.
In November 2010, Matthew and Carly announced the birth of their son, London Luca Ridge, born 16 November 2010. This is the second son for Ridge. Binding and Ridge separated in 2015.
- Whiticker, Alan. "Matthew Ridge". rugbyleagueproject.org. Shawn Dollin, Andrew Ferguson and Bill Bates. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- Lion Red Rugby League Annual 1991 New Zealand Rugby League, 1991. pp. 25–36
- In a Different League - Matthew Ridge documentary
- PNG vs NZ 1994 at Rugby League Project
- 1996 ARL Grand Final highlights
- Glucina, Rachel (17 November 2010). "Matthew Ridge welcomes new son". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 22 October 2011.