BBC The Rugby Codebreakers
In 1895, Rugby league and rugby union become separate sports. Twenty rebel clubs, agreed to resign from the Rugby Football Union and form their own governing body – the Northern Rugby Football Union over The issue of professionalism. The stridently amateur RFU, based in London and dominated by Southern clubs, objected to the so-called “broken time” payments that were made to compensate players for time off work. This was a big problem for the predominantly working-class teams from the north, whose players could not afford to forfeit a day’s wage.
A few weeks back, BBC 2 broadcast a documentary that looked into the story of welsh players who left amateur rugby union to play professional rugby league, and in doing so were banned from ever playing rugby union again. You can watch the excellent documentary here.
This film comes a good few years after my documentary on the same subject, that I produced while I was still a documentary film student at Newport Film School. My documentary focuses on the life story of the legendary Newport RFC and Wales Rugby Union international Dai Watkins.
David Watkins takes us from his earliest rugby days in rugby union with Newport, Wales and the British and Irish Lions to his decision to move north to rugby league with Salford, a decision that resulted in him being shunned by the rugby union community. The Only player to ever captain the British and Irish Lions in Rugby Union and Great Britain in Rugby League. A canny, darting fly-half from the mining community of Blaina in north Gwent, Watkins used his sport to expand his horizons and make his name known and respected worldwide.