UPDATE: Gavin Henson sacked by Cardiff Blues

UPDATE: Following this morning’s meeting by the Blues management, Gavin Henson has been dismissed from the club with immediate effect. Full statement here.

If you made the assumption after hearing the news of Gavin Henson’s latest escapade on Saturday night and believed it to be an April Fools, you are forgiven. After all, surely it was beyond all levels of rationale and possibility that Gavin Henson would have managed to take what felt like his final opportunity in the sport and toss it away.

Yet waking up on Sunday morning, disbelief turned to both disdain and incredulity. To recap, after Cardiff were embarrassingly hammered by Glasgow, a result that had made their prospects of taking part in the end of season playoffs highly unlikely, Henson consequently headed out into the Scottish city and drank until boarding the 7am flight the following morning back to the Welsh capital.

On board, he continued to drink into a state, before allegedly throwing ice cubes around the cabin and when asked by the airline staff to stop, became violent and aggressive. As news started to filter out about the latest escapade, Cardiff’s action was swift in suspending him immediately, with the management team of Gareth Baber & Justin Burrell sitting down this morning to work out what to do with him.

Henson said the following in a statement: “I stupidly carried on drinking during the flight, for which I am truly embarrassed. I can see that drinking and behaving inappropriately on that flight as a professional sportsman at 7am has caused offence to members of the public, the Flybe airline staff and passengers. I remain fully focused and committed to Cardiff Blues and I hope they can accept my apology.”

What is important to remember is that this is Henson’s second alcohol-related disciplinary faux-pas within a year. After he made what appeared to be an ambitious move to Toulon following a bizarre six weeks at Saracens, Henson’s stint with the French juggernaut fell apart after only his second appearance for the club. Taunting Jonny Wilkinson and captain Joe Van Niekerk, plus brawling with scrum-half Matt Henjak on a night out meant that the mercenary was forced to pack his bags once more.

Although apologetic and eager to be kept on at the club, insulting the club’s figurehead in Van Niekerk and their beloved son in Wilkinson was both foolish and offensive. Henson only days earlier had praised the club and atmosphere he found himself in, citing it as a springboard for his comeback. The dialogue was similar on his return to Wales this year, where to much surprise after he appeared on reality TV show The Bachelor he was picked up by Cardiff and gradually regained his fitness.

Now less than halfway into an eight month deal, the wheels are off again. At 30, joining Cardiff was the final chance for Henson to somehow come close to maximising what appeared to be extraordinary potential when he tore up the 2005 Six Nations in his debut championship. For esteemed Welsh internationals such as Ryan Jones to come out in his defence speaks volumes of the admiration held amongst Henson’s peers of his talent.

It has now been just under 18 months since Henson officially left the Ospreys, though he had spent a similar period of time out of the game with injuries preceding that. Since his departure, reality TV has played its part in the circus (Henson also participated in Strictly Come Dancing), but the primary concern has been alcohol.

An unashamedly eager desire for the limelight, at times fuelled by drink, has been the masquerade covering up Henson’s damaging insecurities. No one is a saint when it comes to alcohol, but to act in that manner whilst on professional duty with not just one of your clubs, but two, both at times when you are playing for your career is either unreservedly and idiotically stupid, or tragic and a desperate sign for help (depending on your level of cynicism). As Sunday passed and reflection set in, the overwhelming urge was for the latter and the conclusion that Henson sorely needs help.

If Cardiff conclude that their association with him must come to an end, it will be his third acrimonious split with a leading European side in 18 months. If he does stay, he will have to receive some form of psychological counselling regarding his reaction to alcohol. When fully fit both in mind and body, his natural talent is impossible to ignore, with some of the finest hands and vision that Wales have arguably every produced, not to mention a monster boot.

Whether he deserves another chance is up for debate, but what no one can disagree with is that through a series of tumultuous events, what could have been an outstanding career has been wasted, both by injury and ego. That is a bitter taste that when Henson looks back, no drink will cure.

by Ben Coles

The Gavin Henson Story:

September 2003 – 21 year old Henson makes his regional debut for the Ospreys

February 2005 – After impressive in the Autumn internationals, Henson has a superb Six Nations debut against England, landing big kicks and putting in that tackle on Mathew Tait. Wales go on to win the Grand Slam, the centre later releasing his first book in which he heavily criticises the Lions tour to New Zealand

February 2008 – Henson missed the 2007 Rugby World Cup, but returns for the Six Nations, again winning the Grand Slam

October 2010 – After 18 months off including a stint on Strictly Come Dancing, Henson signs for Saracens

February 2011 – Five games in, Henson is released from his contract and joins Toulon as a medical joker

April 2011: – Henson has an altercation with team-mates in a nightclub and is suspended. He is released a month later at the end of the season

October 2011: – After playing for Wales in the summer, as well as staring in The Bachelor, Henson joins Cardiff Blues on an 8 month deal

April 1st 2012: – Henson is suspended by Cardiff after an altercation on a flight back form Glasgow after drinking heavily

April 2nd 2012: – Cardiff Blues sack Henson with immediate effect

Pin It

23 comments on “UPDATE: Gavin Henson sacked by Cardiff Blues

  1. Good article Ben.

    It saddens me to say it, but I think the Gavin Henson ship has sailed and he will end up playing for a Welsh Premiership team. I can’t see any of the Aviva Premiership teams taking him on. I can’t see any offers coming in from abroad either.

    Although not all his fault, injury prone and his separation from Charlotte Church hitting him hard, he’s consistently failed to mature and take these upsets on the chin and move on.

    Shame for a once prospective talent.

  2. Sadly I think his future lies in reality TV, and not rugby. You are right Darryl, I can’t see any Premiership team taking him on. He did nothing at Sarries whilst there, apart from getting injured again. And we all know what happened at Toulon. He seems to constantly engage his mouth before his brain, even when he’s not drunk.

  3. Henson is by his own admission crippingly shy . How this fits in with chasing celebrity headlines is a bit of a mystery but humans are of course contradictory in nature ..

    Unfortunately the use of alcohol seems to lead to another side of his nature coming out and at the age of 30 he hasn’t learnt to control this .

    Sadly he is probably now going to be seen as too disruptive to be involved in any professional team . It is sad because at one time he had talent to burn however that is what he has done burnt it .

  4. Henson is a moron and Cardiff will be well rid of him. Can not see who would want him.
    Perhaps him and that other idiot who cant hold his drink Danny Care can open a pub together

  5. What a shame that such talent is wasted on such a moron, his love for himself is nearly matched for his love for a TV career but when you are so null and void of any personality as this prat is he won’t last long.

    I can’t see how he is ‘Cripplingly Shy’ when he is so vain, the Welsh shouldn’t be bothered about this joke as they have a far better and stronger team without him.

  6. Can’t believe he’s 30. Totally wasted talent. A lesson to some current international wannabe’s I think. Once again a minus against the insular world of rugby. Most people in the real world grow up much faster!

    • unless he wants to line up for Rosslyn park 4s this weekend, its almost de regreur to turn up having not been to sleep the night before!

  7. Undoubtedly a waste of a talent who could’ve gone to to achieve much more. However the guy is a double grand slam winner and former lion. Something i’m sure plenty of other players would love to achieve by the end of their careers, but may never do so.

    He should take stock and be thankful for what he did achieve in the game. Somehow though i doubt even that is enough to satisfy him, and no doubt it’s not the last we’ll hear of him..for all the wrong reasons.

  8. The Blues must be rubbing their hands at this development. They want to offload him – he’s too expensive, not playing well and not getting on with some of their more important stars, He’s just handed them an easy way to show him the door.

    Personally I’ve always been happy to support Gav but the last straw for me was last summer – lots of contrite interviews about understanding this was now his last chance, it’s all about the rugby now, all about the chance to place in the World Cup … then he announces he is doing The Bachelor. That was the moment a lot of us Gav supporters finally gave up and wished he would go away, stop stinking up Welsh Rugby with his antics. 3 weeks after our 3rd Grand Slam in only 8 years and already he’s got more headlines across the bridge than any of our rugby ever did.

    • Yep, as expected, Blues have dismissed him with immediate effect. This is ugly – there have been plenty of players who have behaved badly who they have not dismissed, but this time it serves their purpose and they can take the moral high ground. Leaves a very bad taste. He’s a naughty boy but he’s caught up in the wider problems at the Blues this time.

  9. CEO of The Blues says “We have a duty to our supporters and sponsors to protect the good name of Cardiff Blues and those associated with our brand.”. This sort of crap really makes me angry. They do nothing to improve the rugby of the Blues – amateur coaches, mass player exodus, cavernously empty stadium, witless selection and recruitment policy, complete ignorance of what it is to be a region rather than a club, awful ineffectual marketing strategy (adverts on S4C at 2 in the afternoon seems to be their magic idea) … all of that together makes the Blues “good name” go down the toilet, now what Gav did. They must be so happy Gav did this as nobody is talking about how a Scottish team stuffed with wooden spoon winners ritually disembowelled and humiliated the Blues on Friday night – a team with Lau La La, Roberts, 1/2penny, Cuthbert… Woeful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>