Scrum half Charlie Davies knows all about European upsets – as the architect of one of the region’s biggest ever results in the Challenge Cup.
Davies spent three seasons at the Dragons after signing from Wasps in 2015 and made 54 appearances.
But it was on April 9, 2016 against Gloucester at Kingsholm that he really went down in folklore.
Davies peeled away from a driving maul with four minutes remaining of the last eight showdown to score the Dragons’ winner and wrap up a famous 23-21 quarter-final victory in the West Country.
Now every April 9 is celebrated as ‘Charlie Davies Day’ by the Rodney Parade faithful – and the former number nine admits that fact still makes him smile.
“It’s always a funny one and this year, with it being lockdown, I had lots tweets about it. It always makes me smile,” said the 30-year-old.
“It was one of my fondest rugby memories, but I was ultimately a small part of a massive team effort by the squad. I’m happy, though, for people to call it that!"
Davies admits that, like this season, Dragons went into that game at Gloucester as big underdogs and with little to lose.
And with pressure off the team produced one of the most memorable performances in the region’s history.
“Nobody expected us to get anything at Kingsholm. I’d played there for Wasps and won a couple, but also had some pretty heavy beatings,” he said.
“We weren’t given much of a hope or expected to come away with anything other than a bit of an ordeal.
“It was one of those days when the pressure was off and we could express ourselves. It was actually a good game and free-flowing.”
As for the magic moment when Dragons silenced the Shed and stormed ahead with just minutes left, Davies acknowledges that skipper Lewis Evans had been a driving force.
“We won a penalty late on after some pressure and Shankesy (Lewis Evans) went straight for the corner. He never even looked at the posts, there was no hesitation,” revealed Davies, who also played for Nottingham, Stade Francais, Wasps and Northampton Saints.
“It was one of those moments when the game just seemed to slow down.
“We were never going to go wide, everyone was in except for Hallam (Amos), Dorian (Jones) and Carl (Meyer). We even had Tyler Morgan and Adam Warren getting involved with the pack.
“We had a good set-up and I remember being aware that the fringe defenders were biting in because they were worried we might push them over.
“The blindside was biting in and I watched him and thought ‘if he goes again I am going’. Thankfully he did just that.
“I wasn’t the smallest of nines and a bit of that weight came in handy with two or three players on my back.
“I remember we all went mad thinking it was done,” he added. “Then we got back to halfway and I was barking and screaming at people that we still had a few minutes left.
“Gloucester were never going to go down without a fight. It was still tense and for the last few minutes we defended until we got a turnover.
“The celebrations started then and we certainly had a good night - I can tell you that much.”
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s showdown at Ashton Gate Stadium, Davies hope Dragons take the lessons from that day over four years ago and enjoy the occasion and express themselves.
“Bristol have a seriously star-studded line-up and are obviously one of the top teams in the English Premiership,” he said.
“Dragons have nothing to lose so if they can contain the stars and get their game going they could cause a shock. It’s about enjoying the day.
“It’s knockout rugby and anything can happen over 80 minutes. I’d love to see them do it again.
“I just hope they give it everything they have and enjoy the occasion that is a quarter-final.
“I loved my time at the Dragons and will always look for the results and cheer them on. We had a great bunch of boys who were hard-working,” he added.
“There was lots of young talent coming through back then and that is now starting to show.
“Dean Ryan has come in and they have made massive improvements with a solid coaching direction.
“I look back with a smile. We didn’t always get the rub of the green and the results on the field, but we worked hard and were a tight group.”
Davies retired from rugby in 2019 and has since gone into his other big passion in life – the music industry.
His love for DJing was even showcased to his former team-mates when he surprised the Dragons players during the region’s end-of-season awards on Zoom with a top set.
“Chappy (General Manager, James Chapron) asked if I fancied a bit of DJing so I went on the Zoom call and played a bit of music,” he smiled.
“I hadn’t seen the boys for a while so it was nice to catch up and say hello!
“I was fortunate to play rugby and now I’m following the other passion in my life, which is music. I’d always been into DJing and music during my playing days.”
And as for the future, Davies is looking forward to what is next in store.
“I’ve been working in the music industry and events, with some time at a record label. It’s something I really enjoy,” he revealed.
“We’ve all had to adapt in these tough times of the pandemic. Normally my summer would be spent going back and forth to Ibiza and big shows around Europe.
“It’s a bit of a waiting game during the pandemic, but I’m looking forward and excited about the future.”
We won a penalty late on after some pressure and Shankesy (Lewis Evans) went for the corner. He never even looked at the posts, there was no hesitation...