Former Wales international Matthew J Watkins has sadly passed away, it has been confirmed.
The ex-centre had been battling with illness for several years after confirming back in 2013 that he had a rare form of pelvic cancer.
Watkins won 18 caps for his national side before officially retiring in 2011, and he sadly leaves behind his wife and two sons Sior and Tal.
Throughout his professional playing career, Watkins represented six teams, making appearances for; Newport, Llanelli, Llanelli Scarlets, Gloucester, Newport Gwent Dragons and finally Newport. He made over 100 appearances for both Newport and then Llanelli Scarlets.
Reacting to the tragic news, Dragons posted an official statement that read: “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 also reacted with a statement of their own, which read: “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 then tweeted from their official account: “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 also 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.”
A tragic day for Welsh rugby, and it’s believed the national team will wear black armbands in their match with England in the Six Nations later today.