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Former Wales player Matthew J...
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Former Wales player Matthew J Watkins passes away aged 41

Former Welsh rugby player Matthew J Watkins has passed away at the age of 41. 

The centre, who collected 18 caps between 2003 and 2006 with his native country, was diagnosed with a rare form of pelvic cancer in 2013 and was receiving treatment for the illness.

Watkins enjoyed a decorated club career alongside his international exploits. He made more than 100 appearances for the Scarlets and spent five years at Newport RFC where he played 118 times.

Watkins also spent time at Gloucester, before moving back to Wales to join the Dragons in 2009. He retired from rugby in 2011.

"Everyone at Dragons Rugby is deeply saddened at the passing of our former player Matthew J Watkins at the age of 41," a statement from his former club read this morning.

"Matthew’s experience, leadership and talent was a great asset to our team before his retirement from the sport in 2011."

As well as highlighting his prowess on the field of play, the Dragons also referred to his work off the field to raise awareness for the Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff, where he was being treated.

"Matthew, who lived in Blackwood, was diagnosed with a rare form of pelvic cancer in 2013 and was receiving treatment at Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff.

"Despite his diagnosis, Matthew was determined to help raise money and awareness for the hospital and raised hundreds of thousands of pounds with two gruelling bike rides across the USA.

"Most recently he had been rallying everyone to support a campaign by Cancer Research UK for World Cancer Day by joining him in wearing a Unity Band.

"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."

Another of Watkins former clubs, Scarlets, also paid tribute.

"‘MJ’ played 150 matches in a Scarlets jersey between 2002 and 2008, scoring 42 tries, including one against Ulster at Stradey Park that helped the Scarlets clinch the 2003-04 Celtic League title.

"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."

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