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Former Wales international Matthew J Watkins has died aged 41

The Welsh team will wear black armbands against England today as a mark of respect for the centre, who won 18 caps for his national team.

Matthew J Watkins in action for Wales against France in 2006.
Matthew J Watkins in action for Wales against France in 2006.
Image: PA

MATTHEW J WATKINS, the Wales international who has been battling cancer for the last seven years, has died. He was 41-years-old.

The Welsh Rugby Union issued a statement this morning to confirm the news and as a form of respect, there will be a minute’s silence before today’s Wales-England international at Twickenham. The Welsh players will also wear black armbands.

Watkins, along with Stacey, his wife, and sons Siôr and Tal, spent an afternoon in the Wales camp just prior to their Six Nations match against France, two weeks ago. The former Newport, Llanelli and Gloucester player was close friends with Wales coaches, Stephen Jones and Byron Hayward.

The Welsh Rugby Union statement said: “We are deeply saddened by the news that former Wales international Matthew J Watkins has passed away.

“The squad will today wear black armbands to show their respects.  All our thoughts are with MJ’s family and friends.”

Watkins’ career began at Newport, for whom he played 118 times. Llanelli called in 2002 and he answered, making a century of appearances there before he moved to Gloucester. The final two years of his career were spent with Dragons.

At international level, he won his 18 caps between 2003 and 2006, playing twice against Ireland, losing the first game 25-24 at the Millennium Stadium, before Ireland won more comfortably, 31-5, in 2006.

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The former Wales international, Jonathan Davies, tweeted: “What a lovely guy Matthew was. He took on cancer with courage and always had a smile on his face. He lived life to the full and was always smiling. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and close friends.”

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Garry Doyle

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