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Thirty years on from when Jonathan Davies shocked the rugby world


THIRTY years ago this week Welsh wizard Jonathan Davies shocked the rugby world by switching codes including a spell at Warrington Wolves.

Although his stay at Warrington was relatively short, he made an major impact during his time in the town on and off the pitch – and proved a big hit all over the town, where he moved with his family, living at Westbrook near the cinema.

He was often in demand for photo shoots, including these never seen before PR pictures taken at the former US Army Burtonwood Airbase by local photographer Eddie Whitham.

It was on January 7 1989 when Widnes Coach Doug Laughton pulled off one of the biggest coups in the game by convincing Davies to switch from a successful international career at Wales to join Widnes, where he had four successful years.

But when Widnes hit financial problems Davies switched to arch rivals Warrington for three seasons, making 67 appearances, scoring 43 tries, 232 conversions and 26 drop goals.

While at Warrington he was also named player of the 1993–94 season, winning the RFL’s Man of Steel Award.

The switch saw fellow Welsh Rugby Union stars Allan Bateman and Rowland Phillips become Wilderspool favourites.

Prior to joining warrington Davies took on a further challenge when he spent the summer in Sydney playing in the 1991 NSWRL season for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.

During his time in rugby league he represented both Great Britain and Wales, scoring a solo try in Great Britain’s defeat of the Kangaroos at the old Wembley in 1994 where he sprinted 50 metres to score in the corner. Although he left the field with a dislocated shoulder, his efforts in both attack and defence saw him named as man of the match.

Davies again played in Australia when he joined the newly-formed North Queensland Cowboys in 1995.

His last rugby league match was as captain of Wales against England in the 1995 World Cup Semi-final at Old Trafford, which Wales lost 25–10.

Playing as a stand-off, Davies kicked 3 goals for Wales taking his total score for Wales to 21 points (10 goals, 1 field goal), all scored in the 1995 World Cup.

After the birth of daughter Geena in 1995, Davies’ wife Karen was diagnosed with cancer. In need of family support, and as rugby union had turned professional, Davies went back to South Wales and signed to play for Cardiff RFC.

In 1996, Davies was awarded an MBE and went with his family to Buckingham Palace to collect his award. In 1997, his wife Karen died.

Since retiring from rugby he has worked in the media as a commentator and pundit in both codes, mainly for the BBC.

Jonathan Davies visiting the former US Army Airbase at Burtonwood – Pictures Eddie Whitham

Picture Eddie Whitham

Taking a tumble at Wilderspool – Picture Eddie Whitham

In typical goal kicking action – Picture Eddie Whitham

Playing for Great Britain against the Kiwis – Picture Eddie Whitham


About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

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