A deluge of condemnatory comments on social media about leading rugby pundit Jonathan Davies emerged during and after the Wales match against France.
He was described on Twitter as “dire”, that he can’t be ‘beared’, “makes this game unwatchable”, his “commentary is horrendous”, and one fan declared: “I fucking hate Jonathan Davies”.
But this has not been the first time that he has incurred the wrath on social media of rugby followers, or hit the headlines for the WRONG reasons.
During the Wales v England game in the last Six Nations tournament more outrage followed.
He was called on Twitter a “moron” a “total disgrace”, “awful”, and a fan said he wanted to rip his ears off “every time (he) opens his mouth”.
Another television viewer of the match said: “@BBCSport can you please stop Jonathan Davies from having an input into ANY rugby commentary! It’s painful! I’ve had to turn the sound off and listen to Radio commentary of the game”. Before a previous game he said live on air: “…the referee’s French, so anything could happen”.
In a Wales game against Ireland The Eye showed how Mr Davies had then been dubbed on Twitter, “awful”, “biased”, “insufferable”, spouting “bullshit” and sounding as if he was “masturbating”, with the BBC being urged to “get rid” of him.
Recently he said on the YouTube podcast ‘Jiffy and Stubbsy’ that he was “saddened” another contributor was not using social media, adding: “I don’t give a monkey’s about the bell ends…”. In another episode of the podcast, Mr Davies said: “If I say something, all of a sudden, people write a tweet and go ‘he should be sacked’ and copy in the BBC”.
Earlier he had told a rugby fan on Twitter: “fuck you and your lads’ cock”. After seeing this tweet and comment by Mr Davies on YouTube, a leading sports journalist who supplies material for UK publications, told The Eye: “He (Jonathan Davies) really is a disgusting individual”.
But he appears to be nervous about some of the reaction he receives on social media, although it seems that much of the criticism may be valid, and Mr Davies, who is an extensive user of Twitter, has rarely been far from the news.
He has been publicly condemned by television viewers for talking “some shit”, as well as being “so so thick”. On social media Mr Davies has sent a picture of himself with no clothes on to TV and radio star Carol Vorderman. He has also faced huge criticism following statements which have included calling the Rhondda MP Chris Bryant a “knob” on Twitter, for asking about childcare during a House of Commons debate.
The fury of Mr Davies has too been directed at journalist Marcus Stead on social media after he had criticised what he views as the Welsh establishment. He engaged in an extraordinary spat with him, again using Twitter, in which he branded Mr Stead, an “attention seeking nobody”, a “sad pathetic waste of time” and ‘hashtagged’ the words “absolute bell end”.
Mr Davies also posted on social media a fake picture of one rugby fan, a well-known Welsh supporter, wearing a Pontypridd RFC shirt but he was then slammed for “essentially fat shaming someone because they disagree with them”, and the observer linked the comment to @BBCSport @BBCNews @5liveSport and @BBCWalesNews, saying they should be “embarrassed”, and that it was a “Dick move”.
But Mr Davies has said on social media that The Eye’s reporting of all this was “negative journalism”, and a backer of his, Marc Winchester, wrote on the Twitter thread: “I’ll whack him (The Eye Editor Phil Parry)“.
This threat was described as a ‘joke’ by Mr Winchester, who has proclaimed he was a multi-millionaire but ran a convenience store, yet it was still reported to the police who mounted an investigation.
A further shocked viewer of another of Mr Davies’ recent ‘re-tweets’ of one message that “lockdowns are unnecessary” told our journalists: “This seems close to being a Covid conspiracy theory now”.
Yet the commentary style of Mr Davies has also been attacked by rugby league supporters. Apart from Friday night’s Rugby Union clash with France, more criticism was levelled at him before, during and after The Challenge Rugby League Cup final last year.
Huge protests on Twitter had greeted news of his original inclusion in the rugby league presentation team, with remarks such as: “Jonathan Davies ruins these games for me”. During the tournament, there were complaints on social media about his mispronunciation of ‘Salford’, he was described as a “dipshit”, and one rugby league fan said “Why do we have 2 have Jonathan Davies on rl 4BBC” with a picture of an upset emoji after the comment. On this occasion a distraught supporter asked why sport executives could not have found someone: “more relevant than Jonathan Davies” with another upset emoji following the remark. A different fan said Mr Davies “chats so much shite” while another said it was “Time to hang the mic up!”.
Mr Davies has also been accused of publishing ‘rubbish’ and ‘ranting’, after stating on social media that controversial plans to re-develop a Cardiff cancer hospital would leave 60 per cent of a meadow available to walkers when campaigners say surveys have indicated all will be destroyed.
Contradicting him, one campaigner declared about the project to re-develop Velindre Hospital: “The whole area will be bulldozed, £27 million of public money just to access this unsuitable site…” Another cautioned: “Let’s talk Jonathan, not rant.”
Mr Davies (one of whose Twitter accounts is @JiffyRugby and includes ‘OBE’ after his name) is President of Velindre Fundraising, and demanded of one of the campaigners: “Have you or anyone close to you ever been unfortunate enough to have cancer?”. But the advocate for a green space in that part of the city hit back, and said: “Absolutely yes, many of those opposing the site are current patients at Velindre”.
Warnings were also repeated about the hazards involved in the misuse of fire extinguishers after experts were shown shocking pictures from a video of Mr Davies using one to spray into the face of his friend, former international rugby referee Nigel Owens, as he sat in his car while another person filming the dangerous stunt laughed. This too was posted on the internet.
The escapade with a fire extinguisher was in the car park of an independent TV facilities house near what was then the headquarters of BBC Cymru Wales (BBC CW) in Llandaff, Cardiff, in 2014, and was condemned as “incredibly dangerous”.
It prompted a series of outraged comments at the time on a sports Facebook (FB) site. One critic said: “…did he give any thought to what injuries he may have caused?…We all like a good laugh sadly this isn’t it”. Another declared that Mr Davies was a “fucking prick”, a further detractor stated that he didn’t think “people realise how dangerous CO2 extinguishers are”. In the clip now on YouTube, Mr Owens escapes from the car running, but Mr Davies uses the fire extinguisher again, as the person filming it exclaims in Welsh “OH, NO!”, and Mr Owens then shouts “IDIOT!” at him pointing.
Behaviour like this, though, as well as Mr Davies’ comments, sit uncomfortably with the guidelines emphasised by BBC Director General Tim Davie, which tell presenters: “…don’t express a personal opinion on matters of public policy, politics, or ‘controversial subjects’”.
Perhaps, though, Mr Davies is not seen as ‘controversial’, even though he has been described on Twitter as “dire”, that he talks too much, his “commentary is horrendous”, and infuriated one fan so much, he declared: “I fucking hate Jonathan Davies”…
Tomorrow – after 23 years with the BBC, and 38 years in journalism (when he was trained to use clear and simple language, avoiding jargon), our Editor Phil Parry looks at the brutal crackdown against an independent media that is now happening in Russia, after the country launched an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
Phil’s memories of his astonishing decades long award-winning career in journalism (including news behind the headlines of sport) as he was gripped by the rare neurological disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now!