Jonathan Davies (rugby, born 1962)
|Full name||Jonathan Davies|
24 October 1962 |
Trimsaran, Carmarthenshire, Wales
|Height||5 ft 9 in (175 cm)|
|Weight||172 lb (12 st 4 lb; 78 kg)|
|Position||Fullback, Wing, Centre, Five-eighth|
|1995||Nth. Qld. Cowboys||9||1||19||1||43|
|Source: Rugby League Project|
Jonathan Davies (born 24 October 1962) is a retired dual-code rugby player, who represented Wales in both rugby union and rugby league. A goal-kicking backline player, he played his club rugby in Wales, England and Australia. Davies has since become a television rugby football commentator and media personality, in both the Welsh and English languages.
Jonathan Davies was born in Trimsaran, Carmarthenshire. Davies is the son of Diana and Len Davies, who worked in Trostre, Llanelli. He started his career in rugby union at amateur level with Trimsaran and was later recruited into rugby league by Jim Mills and Doug Laughton. He would later return to rugby union. Len also played for, and captained Trimsaran Rugby Club. Davies has one younger sister, Caroline (born 1964).
Davies started school at Trimsaran Primary School, where he was part of the Welsh medium class. His teacher Meirion Davies introduced him to rugby, and he started playing Sevens. Although he did not have the strong physique for the contact sport, his talent and flair for the game was recognised by many, including local great Carwyn James. He attended Gwendraeth Grammar School, where he met his first wife Karen Hopkins whom he was to marry some ten years later. In 1974 Davies played for the very first time at Cardiff Arms Park, when he was chosen for the West Wales Under 12s.
Age 17, Davies left school and became an apprentice painter and decorator. After developing at Trimsaran RFC, he was given a trial with Llanelli but was rejected. Neath gave him another chance and he signed with them in 1982, selected to play at fly-half.
Jonathan was made captain at Neath before being transferred to Llanelli. In 1988 he played a very important part in the Triple Crown success for Wales and between 1985 and 1997 he won 37 rugby union caps.
The lack of "professionalism" in the Welsh game was cruelly exposed on the 1988 New Zealand tour with injuries meaning Davies captained the side in four games – he stood out as the class player. The two Tests were lost by fifty point margins, although Davies did score a 90-metre try in the second. Davies returned with ideas for Welsh rugby on how it could improve – he was ignored. Davies was blamed in the media for the surprising Welsh defeat to Romania. As Llanelli placed pressure on him from the WRU to commit himself wholeheartedly to them, he controversially decided for the best interests of his family to move to the rugby league team Widnes, who signed him for a record fee of £230,000.
Davies started in Rugby League with much anticipation, and took time to adjust to the differing sport and its rules. As he learned the game and tried to bulk up, during the 1989–90 Rugby Football League season, he played for defending champions Widnes at centre in their 1989 World Club Challenge victory against the visiting Canberra Raiders. In 1991 he took on a further challenge when he spent the summer in Sydney playing for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
Jonathan Davies played Centre, i.e. number 4, and scored 4-conversions in Widnes' 24-18 victory over Salford in the 1990 Lancashire Cup final during the 1990–91 season at Central Park, Wigan on Saturday 29 September 1990.
After Widnes got into financial difficulties, in 1993 he moved to their local rivals Warrington. During his time in rugby league he represented both Great Britain and Wales, memorably scoring the lone try in Great Britain's last defeat of the Kangaroos at the old Wembley in 1994. He was also named player of the 1993–94 season, winning the RFL's Man of Steel Award.
Davies' final rugby league match was as captain of Wales against England in the 1995 World Cup Semi-final at Old Trafford, which Wales lost 25–10. Playing at Five-eighth, Davies kicked 3 goals for Wales taking his total score for Wales to 21 points (10 goals, 1 field goal), all scored in the 1995 World Cup.
Davies had small stints playing with Australian rugby league team the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in 1991. Davies played mostly at fullback for the Bulldogs who were struggling to make the Semi-finals. The Welsh wizard made an impact with the 'Dogs, scoring 100 points in his 14 games for the club (7 tries, 36 goals), including a personal haul of 18 points (2 tries, 5 goals) in the final round of the season against Cronulla at Canterbury's home ground, Belmore Sports Ground. Needing a win to force a 5th place playoff with Western Suburbs, the Bulldogs got off to a very slow start and Cronulla raced to a 16–0 half time lead. With Davies leading the way, Canterbury came alive in the second half and scored 26 unanswered points to win 26–16. In the playoff with Wests, Davies first stint in Australia came to an end with Wests winning 19–14.
Davies next played in Australia when he signed with new club the North Queensland Cowboys in 1995. A huge signing with fantastic potential for the Cowboys squad, he was unfortunately unable to get out to Australia until mid way through the 1995 Winfield Cup Premiership. Thus the Cowboys were already looking down and out for the year and the team morale was rather low. He showed signs of brilliance, especially in a fantastic full field try against the Newcastle Knights in Newcastle. But he was openly critical of the infant club's administration and struggled to have an impact week in and week out, resulting in a release from the club.
Return to rugby union
After the birth of daughter Geena in 1995, Davies' wife Karen was diagnosed with cancer. In need of family support and as rugby union had turned professional, Davies went back to South Wales and signed to play for Cardiff RFC.
Davies had a lot of trouble readjusting to rugby union, particularly as he was played out of position: despite the fact that he had played many different positions in league he had only ever played outside-half in union. Many thought that his team mates deliberately did not pass the ball to him as they considered him a traitor for 'going North' in the first place. On a guest appearance on A Question of Sport in 1995 he was asked what the biggest change was after returning to rugby union. Davies replied "It's the first time I've been cold for seven years. I was never cold playing rugby league."
In 1996 Davies was awarded an MBE and went with his family to Buckingham Palace to collect his award. In 1997, his wife Karen died.
Davies's parents left Trimsaran and moved to Cardiff so that they could help their son raise his young family.
Since retiring from rugby, Davies' cross-code technical knowledge of rugby tactics has enabled him to gain media work commentating and reviewing rugby games in both codes. He has worked as a television pundit for the BBC covering both rugby codes, in both the English and Welsh languages.
Since 2004 Davies has hosted his own rugby themed chatshow, Jonathan, on S4C, usually before Welsh international matches.
|Cardiff RFC||1996-7||Retired at end of season|
|North Queensland Cowboys||1995||9||1||19||1||43|
- "Jonathan Davies". espnscrum.com. ESPN. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
- "Gareth Thomas completes switch from union to Wales rugby league side Crusaders". telegraph.co.uk (London: Telegraph Media Group Limited). 5 March 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
- "Jonathan Davies 'didn't want to play for Wales' after league return". BBC Sport. 19 June 2013. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
- Davies, Jonathan (22 October 2000). "Roll up and glory in the best". The Independent (London: Independent News and Media Limited). Retrieved 24 December 2009.
- [dead link]
- "Crusader Watkins replaces Davies". BBC News. 11 July 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
- Davies, Jonathan; Peter Corrigan (1996). Jonathan Davies: code breaker. Bloomsbury. ISBN 9780747525516.