Gavin Henson has apologised for drinking and “behaving inappropriately” on a flight from Glasgow to Cardiff and admits he is “truly embarrassed” by the incident.
The 30-year-old Cardiff Blues player was suspended after an incident on a flight from Glasgow back to the Welsh capital on Saturday morning.
Henson issued a statement today and said: “I would like to publicly apologise for drinking on that flight, which is inappropriate behaviour.”
A Cardiff Blues spokesman said he was suspended “with immediate effect” following the incident, while Flybe launched an investigation into the incident.
Henson’s statement today read: “I am releasing this statement in relation to the press reports and the fact that I have been suspended by the Cardiff Blues for drinking on a flight returning to Cardiff from Glasgow on Saturday 31st March.
“I would like to publicly apologise for drinking on that flight which is inappropriate behaviour.
“I admit I had been out drinking in Glasgow on the Friday night following our game against Glasgow Warriors and had stupidly carried on drinking on the flight, for which I am truly embarrassed about.
“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 know that I have let my team-mates, coaches, management, sponsors and indeed my family down with my actions. Drinking on that plane was inexcusable and I know that I must take responsibility for it.
“I also accept that in the light of this I need to learn from it and ensure this does not happen again.
“I am prepared to co-operate 100% with the Cardiff Blues wishes and will do everything that I need to do in order to make amends and enable the Blues to focus on our biggest game of the season next weekend.
“I remain fully focused and committed to Cardiff Blues and I hope they can accept my apology.”
The 30-year-old who has won 34 caps for his country, will find out tomorrow whether he has an immediate future with the region.
A club spokesman said: “The Cardiff Blues management team will meet first thing Monday morning to discuss the matter further.”
Flybe’s statement read: “With regard to flight BE3431 from Glasgow to Cardiff on March 31, Flybe can confirm that it is gathering information from its own staff as well as those at both airports and will make no further comment at this time.”
Henson was a replacement in the 31-3 defeat by Glasgow.
His contract with the Blues, who face Leinster in the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup next weekend, runs out at the end of the season, and it would appear he is unlikely to get an extension regardless of the outcome of tomorrow’s meeting.
The incident is the latest chapter in a controversial career that has seen Henson fail to deliver on his undoubted talent.
First capped as a 19-year-old in 2001, he sprang to national prominence by kicking a monster penalty to help Wales beat England 11-9 at the start of the 2005 RBS 6 Nations, paving the way for a first Welsh Grand Slam in 27 years and his selection for the British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand.
Henson was also a key figure in the 2008 Six Nations clean sweep, which came just a few months after an incident on a train in December 2007 that saw him charged with disorderly conduct, although the case was later dropped.
But with the rugby world seemingly his for the taking, a mixture of injuries followed by a self-imposed exile from the game between March 2009 and October 2010 saw his star fade.
During that time Henson appeared in several reality TV shows, including Strictly Come Dancing and 71 Degrees North, and also went on to appear in The Bachelor.
Having negotiated a release from his Ospreys contract in October 2010, Henson joined Saracens – for whom he made just four appearances – and Toulon in quick succession as he sought to win a place in Wales’ squad for the 2011 World Cup.
Henson’s stint in France started promisingly with a try on his debut, but a nightclub altercation with two team-mates saw him handed a one-week suspension and he was not offered a contract extension at the end of the season.
Despite not having a club, Henson won his first Wales cap for over two years in the defeat to the Barbarians last May and was named in coach Warren Gatland’s provisional World Cup squad, only for a wrist injury suffered in the warm-up win over England to end his aspirations.
There had been glimpses of his best form in that fixture, and it was enough to convince the Blues to take a chance on the three-quarter, but he has struggled to make an impact.