Worrying details in a damning report of the “sexist, misogynistic, racist and homophobic” culture inside Welsh rugby’s governing body, highlight revelations that one of the sport’s former star players was publicly condemned as “annoying as fuck” by a professional in the game, faced a barrage of criticism for his commentary style, and has been heavily criticised for a dangerous prank with a fire extinguisher, which was posted on the internet.
The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) has been slammed after a devastating investigation into the organisation. A woman was referred to as “sugar tits”, another faced suggestions that she had “slept her way into the job”, and men were described as being part of the “master race”. The chair of the WRU (who was appointed since the disclosures) Richard Collier-Keywood has apologised for the conduct of his organisation, and admitted that the report was a “difficult read”, while accepting the 36 recommendations for change.
However all of this throws the spotlight on the questionable conduct of one of its star former players, and present television pundit (Jonathan ‘Jiffy’ Davies), so clearly there is work still to do in the rugby world.
The sports Editor, James Whaling, who works for papers including The Mirror and Daily Star said on X (formerly known as Twitter): “I absolutely knew Jonathan Davies was going to tell Huddersfield to shoot for goal from the differential penalty there. Get him off. (Hashtag) bbcrl, during the rugby league Challenge Cup match between the Huddersfield Giants and Wigan Warriors, which Wigan won 16 – 14.
Another journalist, called David White tweeted: “BBC still persist with Jonathan Davies as a rugby league commentator. It’s baffling @BBCSport (hashtag)ChallengeCup (hashtag)ChallengeCupFinal. In the past the writer Ben Nurse has also used Twitter/X to say: “The game has changed…”, but in response, Mr Davies said: “Ben is trying to make a name for himself. Pathetic”. Mr Nurse was then forced to say ‘sorry’, declaring on the social media site: “I’d like to formally apologise for some of the words in my recent article”.
Enormous protests on Twitter/X 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 competition, 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 a further 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!”.
But Mr Davies has grabbed the headlines for all the wrong reasons, too, in the union code.
The extraordinary comments on Twitter/X where Mr Davies was described as “annoying as fuck”, were made by the rugby expert Nathan Bonner-Evans (who was named forwards coach of Swansea RFC, and played for the Ospreys as well as Sale Sharks).
A fan declared: “I fucking hate Jonathan Davies”. Mr Davies’ commentary style has been compared unfavourably with that of another rugby international (England’s Brian Moore), when a viewer described Mr Moore’s departure from the airwaves as an “Appalling decision by the BBC”.
Mr Davies was called on Twitter/X 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 a 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 one game he said live on air: “…the referee’s French, so anything could happen”.
In a Wales contest with Ireland The Eye showed how Mr Davies had been dubbed on Twitter/X, “awful”, “biased”, “insufferable”, spouting “bullshit” and sounding as if he was “masturbating”, with the BBC being urged to “get rid” of him.
Yet Mr Davies is defiant, and 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, one sports fan told The Eye: “He (Jonathan Davies) really is a disgusting individual”.
These are all set against an alarming backdrop because Mr Davies’ bosses at The BBC have also come under fire (as well as for no longer using Mr Moore), over controversies when neutrality was emphasised.
Yet 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/X, 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 the now-sacked 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/X, 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/X, 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 posted on social media, as well, 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/X 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 and an investigation was mounted.
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”
Mr Davies had, too, been accused of ‘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/X 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 repeated as well, 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 what was at the time an independent TV facilities house, near the former 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 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, along with Mr Davies’ observations, 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 the ‘controversial subject’ of the culture inside the WRU, will lead BBC executives to do something about Mr Davies.
After all, the 36 recommendations for change have been accepted…
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!