David Watkins MBE Obituary, Death – The news of the demise of David Watkins MBE, one of Wales Rugby League’s finest players of all time, was tragic for everyone associated with the organization. He was 81 years old. He was known to his friends and teammates as Dai, and he is widely regarded as one of the best Welshmen who has ever donned a rugby shirt. Dai played for Wales. In 1975, he was named the 28th captain of Wales, and he led the team to victory in 13 of the 16 matches in which he was fully capped for Wales, including victories in the 1975 World Cup over New Zealand, France, and England (in the legendary Battle of Brisbane). This included the last occasion that Wales won a senior rugby match against New Zealand in either code of the sport. Additionally, he was a six-time winner for Great Britain.
However, this is only a portion of his story. His birthplace was Blaina in 1942, and he joined the Cwmcelyn Youth team before moving on to Newport RFC in 1961. Prior to that, he played for Abertillery, Ebbw Vale, and Pontypool. When he was only 18 years old, St. Helens actually made him an offer of £5,000 to sign with the club before he moved to Newport. His mother insisted that they travel together, saying “let’s all go,” but his father insisted that he play for Wales.
The climax of his legendary career was Newport’s 3-0 home victory over the touring All Blacks in 1963. He played with Newport for seven seasons, amassing 294 points in 202 games during that time. He played rugby union for Wales 21 times and for the Lions six times, earning 21 caps for Wales. When Salford offered him a contract in 1967 for the sum of £16,000, he already held the position of captain for all three teams. Everyone involved in rugby union at the time was taken aback by his decision. Saturday’s South Wales Football Argus just reported that Newport had ‘lost David Watkins’ for their 13-13 draw with Gloucester, but by that time, Dai had already made his debut with Salford. They rushed him into the lineup for their match against Oldham on Friday night, and the Argus newspaper published the following on Saturday afternoon: “The latest recruit from Welsh rugby, Dai looked well worth his record signing fee of £13,000 as he tore apart the Oldham defense, scoring a try and two dropped goals in Salford’s 12-6 victory.”
He finished his career with Salford having scored 2,907 points over the course of 407 games, and in the 1972–1973 season, he set a new record for most goals scored in a single season with 221. In addition to this, he is the current holder of the record for the longest scoring run, having scored in each of Salford’s 92 consecutive matches between 19 August 1972 and 25 April 1974. Because of his efforts, Salford captured the league championship in both 1973–1974 and 1975–1976.