mike tindall

Mike Tindall marks 'very sad day' with poignant photo

Welsh rugby star Matthew J Watkins passed away earlier this month

Sharnaz Shahid

Mike Tindall has paid a heartfelt tribute on the day of Welsh rugby star Matthew J Watkins' funeral. Taking to his Instagram page on Tuesday, the former professional rugby player shared a throwback picture with Matthew, in which he expressed his sorrow for not being able to attend his funeral amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. "MJ Watkins funeral today, a very sad day made worse by the unusual time we are living in at the moment," wrote Mike. "Only 10 people can go to his funeral!"

He added: "MJ rest in peace, you brought a lot of fun and fabulous friendship to the lucky people who got to share a rugby field with you. #ripMJ." Earlier this month, it was revealed that Matthew died, aged 41, following a lengthy battle with cancer. The late sports star was diagnosed with a rare form of pelvic cancer in 2013. However, in 2018, Matthew discovered the cancer had spread to his spine and in January this year revealed it had spread to his head.

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At the time of his passing, Mike took to Twitter to express his condolences to the late star's family. "So sad to hear that MJ Watkins passed away last night after fighting cancer for so long," he tweeted, adding: "Such a good laugh to be around and made people around him smile more! Pretty good player as well! Thoughts are with his family! #RIPMJ."

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He leaves behind wife Stacey and sons Siôr and Tal. A statement from his former team the Scarlets read: "The Scarlets family are deeply saddened by the news that our former player Matthew Watkins has passed away at the age of 41. MJ played 150 matches in a Scarlets jersey between 2002 and 2008, scoring 42 tries, including one against Ulster at Stradey Park that helped the Scarlets clinch the 2003-04 Celtic League title."

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The message continued: "He is fondly remembered as a silky-skilled, creative midfielder, who was a hugely popular figure among our supporters, the playing squad and staff at Stradey. The thoughts of everyone at Scarlets Rugby are with Matthew’s wife Stacey, his sons Siôr and Tal, family and friends at this sad time."

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