Jonathan Davies

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Jonathan Davies (born 24 October 1962) is a retired dual-code rugby player, who represented Wales in both rugby union and rugby league.[1] 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.

Rugby union

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.

After 35 games for Neath he was selected to play for Wales, against England at the Cardiff Arms Park. After scoring a try and a drop goal, Davies was named Man of the Match in the Welsh victory.

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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] Davies was blamed in the media for the surprising Welsh defeat to Romania.[citation needed] 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.[2]

Rugby league

Davies started in Rugby League with much anticipation, and took time to adjust to the differing sport and its rules.[citation needed] 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.

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 for Wales against England in the 1995 World Cup semi final, which Wales lost.[3]


Davies had small stints playing with Australian rugby league teams the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in 1991, and the North Queensland Cowboys in 1995. A huge signing with fantastic potential for the Cowboys squad, was 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.[citation needed] 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.

After Rugby

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.

He is an active supporter of Wooden Spoon charity.[4]

Davies was also the President of Super League side Crusaders, until 2009, when he was replaced by David Watkins.[5]

Personal life

Davies passed his Eleven Plus and went to Gwendraeth Grammar School, where he met his first wife Karen Hopkins. The couple married ten years later, and had three children Scott, Grace and Geena

It was shortly after Geena was born that Karen was diagnosed with cancer, and so the family moved back to South Wales in 1995 for family support. Karen died in 1997.[citation needed]

In August 2002 Davies married his second wife Helen in Cardiff.[6] She was formerly part of the Welsh dance troupe the DCD Seniors, who reached the semi-final of Britain's Got Talent in 2009. Davies and Helen have one child Molly. The best man role was taken by his long-time friend and ex-rugby union player Ieuan Evans.[citation needed]

In January 2014 it was reported that Davies had ended his second marriage after 12 years. Davies is reported to have walked out on his 35-year-old wife, saying they had 'grown apart' and insisting no-else is involved.[7]

Career Records

All-Time Club Performance
Clubs Season Games Tries Goals Drop Goals Points Comment
Cardiff RFC 1996-7 Retired at end of season
Total 9 1 19 1 43
North Queensland Cowboys 1995 9 1 19 1 43
Total 9 1 19 1 43
Warrington Wolves 1995-6 8 4 29 3 77
1994-5 29 18 104 12 292
1993-4 30 21 99 11 293
Total 67 43 232 26 662
Canterbury Bulldogs 1991 14 7 36 - 100
Total 14 7 36 - 100
Widnes Vikings 1988-89 12(4) 7 47 1 123
1989-90 29(1) 14 98 0 252
1990-91 32(2) 30 110 2 342
1991-92 24 13 73 1 199
1992-93 29(1) 14 106 0 268
Total 126(8) 78 434 4 1184
Career Totals


  1. "Gareth Thomas completes switch from union to Wales rugby league side Crusaders". (London: Telegraph Media Group Limited). 2010-03-05. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
  2. "Jonathan Davies 'didn't want to play for Wales' after league return". BBC Sport. 19 June 2013. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  3. Davies, Jonathan (2000-10-22). "Roll up and glory in the best". The Independent (London: Independent News and Media Limited). Retrieved 2009-12-24.
  4. [1]{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||$N=Dead link |date=__DATE__ |$B=[dead link] }}
  5. "Crusader Watkins replaces Davies". BBC News. 2009-07-11. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
  6. "Marriage Record".,%20Glamorgan,%20Wales&msgpn=89661&msgpn_PInfo=8-%7C0%7C0%7C3257%7C5250%7C0%7C0%7C0%7C5365%7C89661%7C0%7C&dbOnly=_F0005648%7C_F0005648_x,_F0006310%7C_F0006310_x&uidh=000&pcat=34&fh=0&h=14505431&ml_rpos=1&requr=281775630745604&ur=32768.
  7. "Jonathan Davies, BBC pundit and rugby legend, leaves wife". Daily Mail. Retrieved 1 February 2014.

Further reading

External links