A tarnished golden boot

Gavin Henson was back in the media spotlight tonight in an interview on Scrum V. It was another disastrous set of public utterances and can be summarised thus:

“I just want to get back to playing rugby, the game I love, and I’m only going on Strictly to pay the bills.”

“I want to play rugby in London so I can be near my kids. I don’t want to play for the Ospreys, but I’ll go back and play there if I have to.”

“I have a year to run on my contract with the Ospreys, but I believe I may be a free agent and I don’t have to honour this. I’ve got lawyers working on it.”

Gavin Henson is the master of making a disaster out of an unfortunate situation. He may have been instrumental in delivering two Grand Slam championships in 2005 and 2008, but aside from that, his story has been one of disappointment and frustration. It is clear he has been very poorly advised by those around him, and has made some very bad decisions and a number of idiotic public statements which have alienated him from his fellow players and the Welsh rugby establishment. Take his reaction to Wales’s loss to Ireland in 2006. With a sheepish grin on his face, he claimed he was suicidal. Disappointed perhaps, but on the verge of taking his own life? Unlikely.

In the end, Henson is a rugby player. It’s only a game, and the root of the problem is not out there on the pitch. It has come to this because he has only been equipped with the ability to play rugby; he is completely at home on the field, but real life is something he is unable to cope with on his own. And that is where those around him have let him down.

Henson’s advisors have decided that the best means of releasing him from his contract with the Ospreys is not via the courts, but through the media. Previous encounters with the press and television should have taught them that this wasn’t the way to sell our Gav to the public. But they’ve persisted with it and he has been made to look a fool once again.

The root of the problem lies back in Henson’s formative years. A talented sportsman with all the skills in the world on a rugby pitch, but bereft of even the basic ability to cope with life away from the game. He has been badly let down by those closest to him, and they have allowed him to be hung out to dry in the spotlight too many times. His last chance for sporting redemption has probably gone as a result.

Player Strike Looms Over Pay

Magners League games could become even more unbearable following news that half-time ‘mini-rugby’ players are threatening strike action over a bitter pay dispute with the Welsh regions.  The players, who between themselves and their relatives are known to swell attendance numbers at some matches by up to 30%, are presently paid naff-all to represent their home-town clubs in matches, 4 minutes each way.

“I am my alcoholic mother’s registered carer, and had to buy my own rugby shirt using all the coppers what I dug up off the alloments using my only toy as a spade,” claimed Tommee Leee (sic) Pritchard, 8, a utility back with Dunvant.  “A few quid is all we’re asking for, what with Gran Turismo 2012 coming out soon.  And do you know how much a gram of decent smack costs nowadays?”

But the ongoing money squabble belies a deeper struggle for fair conditions and a dignified sense of recognition, according to Mini-Rugby Wales shop steward Adidas Watkins, 9, from Gilfach Goch.  “Biased referees, poor pitch markings, having to dodge club mascots and blokes wandering about with garden forks – it’s like being a bloody slave, in a box, covered in smelly cow pats, with nothing but a Playstation1.  That’s right, a PlayStation1,” he exclaimed, between hasty palmfuls of Turbo-Gain training supplement.  “And what’s with calling it mini-rugby and tha’?  I’m a professional athlete, not some big bum with a face painted on it.”