Jonathan Davies, This Is Your Life

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), January 14, 2003 | Go to article overview

Jonathan Davies, This Is Your Life


Byline: RHODRI CLARK

RUGBY legend Jonathan Davies thought he was recording a normal episode of A Question of Sport when there was a commotion and into the television studio walked Michael Aspel, bearing a red book.

When the former Wales star realised what was happening he couldn't be sure which of the illustrious panellists was the broad-caster's target. Half an hour later he was on his way from Manchester to the BBC studios in Cardiff where a starstudded audience was waiting to pay tribute to him in This Is Your Life. With the likes of Max Boyce on the guest list there were bound to be more than a few laughs during the filming session, but there were also some poignant moments as Davies recalled his father, who never saw him win his first Wales cap, and his first wife Karen, who died of cancer in 1997. Yesterday some of the guests who didn't get a chance to speak to camera for the show paid tribute to Davies. Gareth Davies, the former Wales rugby player who attended the same school as Jonathan Davies at Trimsaran, Carmarthenshire, praised him for bouncing back after various set-backs. Former Wales captain Ieuan Evans recalled the blow to the team when Davies went north to play rugby league but said he had been right to put his family first.

``He was castigated, which made his move all the more depressing, but I understood his reasons: that he had his family to think about,'' said Evans. ``He set great store by his fam i

y. ``Life has thrown its bad points and good points at him but he's stood up to them all.

``He's got a very strong family behind him.'' Some of those relatives, including Davies's mother, sister, second wife and three children, were present at the Llandaff studio for the recording session. At one point Davies was asked by Cardiff-born Michael Aspel what went through his mind the first time he sang Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau in the Wales team line-up for the first time. Davies replied that he was thinking of his father, who had died before seeing him in the proud red jersey of his country.

For the benefit of any viewers outside Wales who may not be familiar with the anthem, Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau was sung at the end of the filming session by Aled Jones and the Treorchy Male Choir.

Another musician involved in the show was Stereophonics drummer Stuart Cable. European Commissioner Neil Kinnock, formerly leader of the Labour Party, could not be present on the night but was so keen to pay tribute to one of his all-time rugby heroes that he recorded a short speech which will feature on the televised show. Phil Bennett, a member of the unbeatable Wales team in the late 1970s, had also prepared material in advance - to take viewers on a whistle-stop tour of Trimsaran and the rural school that astonishingly produced Wales stars Carwyn James, Barry John, Gareth Davies and Jonathan Davies.

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