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UK News Wales rugby player Matthew J Watkins laid to rest in moving funeral only his family were allowed to attend

19:50  31 march  2020
19:50  31 march  2020 Source:   walesonline.co.uk

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“The funeral service will be streamed online for anyone wishing to see from the safety of their own home – details of how to view the service will be posted. Watkins , a hugely popular figure in Welsh rugby , made over 300 club appearances in a 14-year He left his wife Stacey and sons Sior and Tal.

“The funeral service will be streamed online for anyone wishing to see from the safety of their own home – details of how to view the service will be posted. Watkins , a hugely popular figure in Welsh rugby , made over 300 club appearances in a 14-year He left his wife Stacey and sons Sior and Tal.

Tributes have been paid to “a special man who lived life to the full” at the funeral of Welsh rugby international Matthew J Watkins.

Due to restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus outbreak, only ten members of his family were able to attend the service at Thornhill Crematorium in Cardiff.

But it was streamed live on the internet, enabling the hundreds upon hundreds of people who would have wanted to attend to watch and pay their own respects.

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The funeral of former Wales rugby player Matthew J Watkins is to be streamed online because of the coronavirus pandemic. Watkins , who won 18 caps for Wales between 2003 and 2006, died earlier this month at the age of 41 after being diagnosed with a rare form of pelvic cancer in 2013.

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The 18-times capped centre lost his brave seven-year battle with a rare form of pelvic cancer on the eve of the Wales’ Six Nations clash with England earlier this month, passing away at the age of 41.

Tributes to him poured in from across the rugby world following the tragic news, with former team-mates and friends expressing their heartfelt condolences.

The original plan was to stage a big commemorative service in his honour, but that will now be held later in the year.

His funeral was still, however, a chance to celebrate the life of “a truly fantastic human being” in the presence of his family.

The deeply moving service began with Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars and there were other musical interludes, including I Will Wait by Mumford & Sons and Sia’s Chandelier.

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A video featuring visual memories of Matthew was played to the congregation to the accompaniment of Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwoʻole, while the service concluded with Frank Sinatra’s My Way.

The service was conducted by funeral celebrant Wyn Davies, who read out poems from the family and delivered eulogies to the former Newport, Llanelli, Dragons and Gloucester centre, who went on to be a coach and players’ agent after hanging up his boots.

Davies said there were hundreds and hundreds of people who would be disappointed they couldn’t attend, due to the exceptional circumstances.

He went on to talk about Watkins’ achievements on and off the field and how he would be missed by so many people.

“He lived and loved life to the full,” said Davies.

“What he packed into that life was so valuable and so important.

a person standing in front of a building: The funeral of former Wales rugby international, Matthew J Watkins, at Thornhill crematorium, Cardiff © WalesOnline/ Rob Browne The funeral of former Wales rugby international, Matthew J Watkins, at Thornhill crematorium, Cardiff a hand holding a book: Funeral of Matthew J Watkins, former Wales international, at Thornhill Crematorium, Cardiff. © WalesOnline/ Rob Browne Funeral of Matthew J Watkins, former Wales international, at Thornhill Crematorium, Cardiff.

“So many good times, good memories and achievements. More than most see in two lifetimes.

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The construction worker and rugby player was reinforcing a 20-inch pipe 20 feet underground when he A teammate said his death is like losing a brother. Firefighters entered the 20-foot manhole and were able I've never met someone with as big of a heart on the field or off, rest in peace my brother.'

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“Matthew was a hard, uncompromising player who was totally committed.

“He fulfilled his boyhood dream of playing for Wales, but never changed.

“He was admired by everyone.

“It’s what you leave in people’s hearts and memories that really matters.

“Matthew was a truly fantastic human being, a special man. His was a life lived to the full.”

Davies also paid tribute to the heroic way Watkins battled against cancer and the charity work he did to raise money and awareness.

“He was so brave and so selfless, the way he faced up to his illness,” he said.

“His only fear was seeing his loved ones sad or grieving. He was more concerned about their welfare.

“He always kept a happy and warm manner.

“He attended any charity event he could and would go into schools to do talks.

“What an ambassador, what a man.

“He was a really special man who left so many beautiful memories. A lovely man, a lovely life.”

Watkins, who hailed from Pontllanfraith, was married to his childhood sweetheart Stacey, with the couple having two sons, Siôr and Tal.

“He was known by different names, Matthew, Matthew J, Matt,” said Davies.

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One of his favourite methods was to make us construct sentences out of our own heads to illustrate the rules he was trying to teach us. There was one other incident of the same kind. We were told to make a conditional sentence, expressing a future consequence.

“But the word he liked hearing most was dad.

“He loved his boys unconditionally.

“He was part of a loving and close-knit family.”

a person riding on the back of a car: The funeral of former Wales rugby international, Matthew J Watkins © WalesOnline/ Rob Browne The funeral of former Wales rugby international, Matthew J Watkins a group of people walking on a sidewalk: Family members at the funeral of Wales rugby international Matthew J Watkins at Thornhill crematorium © WalesOnline/ Rob Browne Family members at the funeral of Wales rugby international Matthew J Watkins at Thornhill crematorium

The plan had been for the mass congregation to sing Bread of Heaven at the funeral, but, with numbers restricted, that will now be saved for the memorial service later this year.

Fellow Welsh international Alix Popham had called on the rugby community to celebrate the life of his former Newport and Scarlets team-mate by watching the funeral online.

He urged those following the service to wear a club tie, jersey or pin badge to show what Matthew meant to them and to post a photo of themselves doing so online.

Former Wales and Lions stars Phil Bennett and Mike Phillips were among those to do just that, with Bennett delivering his own personal tribute.

“Matthew was an excellent rugby player and, above all, a lovely man,” said the Llanelli legend.

“There was a modesty and humility about him and a concern for others.

“I spoke to him a while back and, despite his illness, he did his best to be positive. His love for his family shone through and it was quite inspiring and a privilege to talk to him.

“We are all there for his wife Stacey and the children should they need us.

“The world has lost a special individual in Matthew.”

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