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Obituary: Welsh rugby legend David Watkins


David Watkins gestures as he coaches Cardiff Blue Dragons in 1982
David Watkins was inducted into the Welsh Sports activities Corridor of Fame in 2000

Twin code rugby legend David Watkins has died. He was 81.

A coal miner’s son from Blaina within the Gwent Valleys, Watkins is considered one greatest Welsh fly-halves of all time.

He received 21 caps for Wales at rugby union and toured New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions earlier than switching to rugby league.

After becoming a member of Salford for a club-record £15,000 in 1967, Watkins turned the membership’s file factors scorer and performed six Assessments for Nice Britain.

He captained the Wales rugby league group and coached the GB Lions on their tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1977.

Watkins was a fly-half within the basic Welsh mould. Standing solely 5ft 6in (1.68m) and weighing in at lower than 10-and-a-half-stone (66.7kg), he relied on a lightning flip of tempo and intelligent tactical nous to undo defences.

He got here to prominence whereas nonetheless a young person in 1963, taking part in 4 occasions for Wales and serving to his membership Newport file a memorable 3-0 win over the All Blacks – the one match the New Zealanders misplaced on that tour.

Watkins quickly established himself because the main stand-off in Britain and was rewarded with a spot on the 1966 Lions tour of Australia and New Zealand the place he captained the group in two Assessments.

On his return to Wales, Watkins was dropped from the nationwide group in favour of Barry John.

Nonetheless, following defeats towards Australia and Scotland, Watkins was re-instated as fly-half and appointed captain for the remainder of the season.

However the 34-21 win over England on 15 April 1967 turned out to be his final recreation of rugby union for Wales as he switched codes in October.

He made a dream begin within the 13-man recreation, scoring a 70-yard try to dropping two targets on his debut for Salford, however his small stature and massive switch price made him a goal for opponents.

Talking in 2002, Watkins stated: “In my first two seasons I broke my nostril 4 occasions, fractured my ribs and broke my jaw and so they had been all off-the-ball incidents.

“I bear in mind being pole-axed in a recreation towards Leigh. I bought up and requested the ref what he was going to do about it. He stated, ‘hey, son, you have been paid sufficient to take care of your self’!”

Nonetheless, Watkins proved he had the braveness and willpower to go together with his expertise, and between August 1972 and April 1974 scored in 92 consecutive matches for Salford.

In all, the Welshman scored 41 tries and kicked 403 targets for the Purple Devils and performed in six Assessments for Nice Britain earlier than teaching the facet in 1977.

He was appointed an MBE for providers to sport, and after retiring as a participant was chief government of the short-lived Cardiff Blue Dragons rugby league franchise.

Watkins at all times maintained his hyperlinks with Newport Rugby Membership and in 1992 led a consortium that took over the membership.

He was later appointed chairman and elected president of the Newport Gwent Dragons when the area – now named Dragons RFC – was arrange in 2002.

A passionate supporter of the 13-man code, Watkins was additionally patron of the Wales Rugby League and inducted into the Welsh Sports activities Corridor of Fame in 2000.

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