Jonathan Davies, rugby player

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The ex rugby player achieved his dream of playing like his heroes, but never imagined that one day he would be commentating with them.

Raise Your Game: Raise Your Game is about inspiring youngsters, who inspired you?

Jonathan Davies: I had to so many heroes when I was growing up, with Wales being so successful in rugby. Georgie Best, Maradonna, John McEnroe, Muhammad Ali - people like that who, when they did something in sport, brought me to the edge of my seat.

If I were to pick one person over and above those, because of my upbringing and background, it would be a gentleman called Gerald Davies who played on the right wing for Wales, the Lions and the Barbarians. He came from a very, very, very little village called Llansaint, and every time he had the ball he was fantastic. We came from similar backgrounds, and are of a similar stature.

RYG: You were a successful player in Union and League. What made you successful in both?

JD: I think attitude is the main thing. Having not been successful in getting any recognition at any schoolboy or youth level, I just wanted to show people I could do it, irrespective of honours at a young age. And I kept on training with my village, Trimsaran, and had the kind of attitude that wasn't going to fail me really. I always knew I had something, even if other people couldn't recognise it. I just trained and trained and the opportunity came, and once that opportunity came I took it.

Profile

Name:
Jonathan Davies

Born:
24 October 1962

Game:
Rugby

Position:
Fly Half

International Caps:
32

Clubs:
Rugby Union

  • Neath RFC
  • Llanelli RFC
  • Cardiff RFC

Rugby League

  • Widnes Vikings
  • Warrington Wolves
  • Canterbury Bulldogs
  • North Queensland Cowboys

Achievements:

  • 1985 - 1997 32 Rugby Union caps
  • 1988 Welsh Triple Crown
  • 1989 World Club Champions (with Widnes)
  • 1994 Rugby League Man of Steel (with Warrington)
  • 1996 awarded a MBE

It was maybe the fear of failure, but I put it down to a real mental toughness, that I wanted to be successful and try to overcome every obstacle that was put in my way.

RYG: As a player, what motivated you? Was it the carrot or the stick?

JD: I think a bit of both. Sometimes when I was a bit lethargic and not on top of my game I needed the stick, and then sometimes, when I was on top of my game, just a comforting word to say where I was. I think it's knowing when to give the carrot and when to give the stick, but if you give it at the wrong times it's very detrimental.

RYG: Were you good at motivating others?

JD: I've always been a team player first and foremost, because without the team you don't gain success. However good you are as an individual, however well you perform in that team environment, everyone has got to buy into the same ideas.

I've never gone onto the pitch without everyone in that side knowing what their part in that team was. When you train as an individual sportsman you know what you have to do, you know how you prepare, and what you have to do to win. Within a team you do that as well, but you do it in a team environment with 15 or 22 other people.

RYG: It's everybody's dream to play for Wales, what exactly is the feeling like going out there?

JD: I think when you represent your country at any sport it is a magnificent feeling. It's first of all a surreal moment - you've dreamt of it as a little kid - I was Gerald Davies, I was Gareth Edwards in my back garden. I listened to Bill Maclaren commentating on them and then you're listening to them commentating on you, When I gave up playing I was fortunate enough to share the microphone with Bill so it's been great.

But nothing ever replaces, or comes anywhere near, the first time I played for Wales. Running out against England at the Arms Park, all my family and friends and people who'd coached me from the age of 8, the dinner ladies in the school to the women and wives in the rugby club, people who marked the pitches and cleaned the changing rooms; they were all there supporting me. I felt they were all a part of my success and when I ran out it in the red jersey it was just a very emotional, exhilarating feeling.

My father died when I was 14 and he wanted me to play rugby and enjoy it, and I thought of him then and how proud he would have been, so it was just a magnificent feeling playing for Wales.

RYG: You're now a successful television analyst and commentator. What skills do you bring from the game to that?

JD: I think it's an awareness of situations, clear thoughts and maybe understanding what's happening before it's happening. It's very difficult to say why it's successful, but the same attitudes I had as a player, like the fear of failure, spurred me on. Once I'd made that change, I didn't want to be regarded as a sportsman, I wanted to be regarded as a broadcaster.

RYG: What kind of preparation do you do?

Did you know?

After winning 27 Welsh caps in Rugby Union, Jonathan Davies made the risky switch to Rugby League by moving from Llanelli to Widnes in 1988.

After a successful spell in League he returned to Union in 1995 with Cardiff, winning a further five Wales caps.

JD: I'm always looking at Teletext and reading the newspapers and I try to keep up-to-date with whatever's happening. It's very difficult because there are so many clubs and players, and so many national sides and injuries and suspensions that you've just got to try and keep on top of it.

I enjoy what I do, and I'm very, very fortunate that I'm in a job that is my hobby, but you have to prepare very well throughout the season and on the day itself.

My job is analysing what's happening on the pitch. The commentator describes the play and I'm the one who brings an analytical viewpoint to it. I try to make it as clear and as simple as I can because both games (Union and league) are quite complicated and some of the rules difficult to interpret.

The main thing I feel is whatever you do, you have to enjoy it. If you don't enjoy it, whether it's sport or work I don't think you can really achieve what you want to achieve. The main thing for me is, although I've had the knock-backs, that I've enjoyed everything I've done and I still enjoy it.


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