"That's total rubbish" - Jonathan Davies on loss of aspects of rugby's amateur ethos

Former Wales international speaks about importance of enjoying the game

Jonathan Davies, Wales, BBC, rugby

BBC's Jonathan Davies ©INPHO/James Crombie

"Rugby has just changed beyond identity to me. I started when it was semi-pro, and just starting professionally. The game is different (now), and it’s almost like I don’t like it anymore."

Those are the candid words of Leinster's Hayden Triggs who will retire from rugby after this season at the age of 35.

On Wednesday night's Off The Ball, ex-Ireland captain Keith Wood and former Wales out half Jonathan Davies discussed the changing culture within rugby in its move from an amateur ethos to a professional one.

Davies shared his views on some of those shifting mindsets and the challenges of enjoying the moment.

"When you're playing, whether you're an amateur or a professional, you can't really enjoy the game as much as you hoped for because it's so intense and winning is everything," he said.

"It's in your DNA and you want to win and you can't enjoy test matches really until the final whistle is over or you're two scores ahead.

"I played in a mainly amateur but also then professionally rugby league. But the good thing about that, the rugby league boys were professional but when the rugby union boys went in there, they started to enjoy themselves as well.

"I think there's a place where it's over the top now a little bit. They say 'you can't  enjoy a drink' or 'relaxation on a Saturday night if you're playing the following Saturday'. I think that's total rubbish.

"I think you're at the peak of your performance. You're training every day and you can sweat it out. I think sometimes having a release makes you a better player the following week.

"Because I speak to some of the players and they go, 'a Saturday match is like a  Monday training'. Well, that's not right, that's not the job where you enjoy. That is not right. Sometimes I think it's down to a lot of the rugby directors and the captains to instil enjoyment and a little bit of the amateur ethos and give players responsibility. But you have to enjoy because as Keith has said, it's a privileged position when you're playing and you don't realise how privileged you are until you finish."