Ex-Wales rugby international Matthew Watkins dies aged 41 after cancer battle

Former Wales centre Matthew J Watkins has passed away aged 41 after a seven-year battle with pelvic cancer.

Watkins played 18 times for his country during his career which spanned from 1997 until his retirement in 2011.

He was diagnosed with cancer in 2013 while studying for his rugby coaching qualifications.

His former club Newport Gwent Dragons said: "Everyone at Dragons Rugby is deeply saddened at the passing of our former player Matthew J Watkins.

"Matthew will be missed by so many and our sincere condolences go out to Matthew's wife Stacey, his sons Sior and Tal, family and friends.

"The thoughts of everyone at Dragons Rugby are with them all at this very sad time."

Another of his former clubs Llanelli Scarlets, said: "He is fondly remembered as a silky-skilled, creative midfielder, who was a hugely popular figure among our supporters, the playing squad and staff at Stradey."

Former dual-code Wales international Jonathan Davies paid tribute to Watkins on social media.

Davies wrote on Twitter: "RIP Matthew. What a lovely guy who took on cancer with courage and always had a smile on his face. Lived life to the full and was always smiling. Thoughts and prayers are with his family and close friends."

Wales flanker Dan Lydiate wrote on Twitter: "Gutted to hear the passing of Mj this morning thoughts are with his family class player and one of rugby's great characters."

And Newport RFC tweeted: "We are all extremely saddened to learn of the passing of ex-B&A and Wales international, Matthew J Watkins.

"Matthew played 131 times for the club in 2 stints and was inducted into our Hall of Fame in 2018.

"We send all our thoughts and love to Matthew's family and friends."

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