Matthew J Watkins: Ex-Wales centre dies at the age of 41

Matthew J Watkins in action against Argentina in 2006
Matthew J Watkins won the last of his Wales caps on tour to Argentina in 2006

Former Wales centre Matthew J Watkins has died at the age of 41 after a long illness.

Watkins, who won 18 caps, retired in 2011 and revealed in 2013 he had a rare form of pelvic cancer.

He leaves his wife Stacey and sons Siôr and Tal.

The Welsh Rugby Union, Dragons, Scarlets and Gloucester were among those to pay tribute to a player who fundraised for cancer charities after his playing career ended.

Alun Wyn Jones pays tribute to Matthew J Watkins

Watkins graduated to Dragons via the Newbridge, Pontllanfraith and Newport clubs.

Dragons said in a statement:external-link "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 Siôr and Tal, family and friends.

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

Scarlets echoed Dragons' sentiments,external-link saying: "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."

Gloucester tweeted: "Everybody at Gloucester Rugby are saddened to hear the news that our former player, Matthew J Watkins, has passed away at the age of 41. A man who battled so bravely and admirably.

"Our heartfelt sympathies go out to Matthew's family and friends."

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."

Wales fly-half Dan Biggar paid tribute after the 33-30 Six Nations defeat to England.

"We're all thinking of Matthew's family and his young family," said Biggar.

"This is a game of rugby at the end of the day and if we can offer any support and anything that they need all they've got to do is pick the phone up.'

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