On This Day in 2011: Gavin Henson started his ill-fated keep at Cardiff Blues

Gavin Henson’s move to the Cardiff Blues in October 2011 ended a two and a half year exile from Welsh club rugby.

Utility back Henson had been searching for a club since French outfit Toulon chose not to renew his contract at the end of the 2010-11 season.

The flamboyant 29-year-old signed an eight-month deal at Cardiff Arms Park on October 18, the move to the Welsh capital coming after he had taken a sabbatical from the Swansea-based Ospreys and unsuccessful spells at Saracens and Toulon.

Gavin Henson spent just six months at the Cardiff Blues before his contract was terminated following a drunken incident on a plane (David Jones/PA)

Henson did not play for 18 months after taking a sabbatical in April 2009 and his return was motivated by a desire to play in the World Cup after being left out of the Wales squad in 2003 and 2007.

In the event, Henson – who won 33 caps for Wales and played for the British and Irish Lions on their 2005 tour to New Zealand – dislocated his wrist in a 2011 World Cup warm-up game against England and never played in the competition.

Henson, a key member of Wales’ 2005 Grand Slam-winning side, never represented his country again and his Blues career would end in ignominy just six months later.

The Blues sacked him after his drunken antics on a plane and Henson was barred for six months by Flybe, the airline which flew the team back from a game in Glasgow.

Henson, centre, starred in Wales’ 2005 Grand Slam-winning campaign (David Davies/PA)

Club executive Richard Holland said: “Gavin admitted himself that his behaviour was totally unacceptable and the immediate termination of his contract sends out a clear message that behaviour like that will not be tolerated at the Blues.”

Henson had further spells at London Welsh, Bath, Bristol and the Newport-based Dragons before retiring from the game at the end of the 2018-19 season.

It was announced in September 2020 that Henson had joined rugby league side West Wales Raiders for next year, even though he will be 39 by the time the season starts.

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