Cardiff Blues backs coach Gareth Baber has supported the club’s handling of Gavin Henson’s sacking, and defended the decision to allow players to go out for a drink after Friday’s defeat in Glasgow.
Henson, 30, had his contract with the Blues terminated following a meeting of the club’s management on Monday morning.
That came in the wake of his alcohol-fuelled behaviour on Saturday morning’s return flight from Scotland.
Henson was suspended by Cardiff on Saturday evening and issued an apology on Sunday where he admitted drinking following the 31-3 defeat to the Warriors and on the flight the next day.
But it was not enough to convince the Blues to retain his services and he was also banned by the airline Flybe for six months as a result of his behaviour, leaving his rugby career in tatters.
The Blues have come in for criticism in some quarters for their decision to sack Henson, but Baber described the move as “neccessary” as the region prepare for Saturday’s daunting Heineken Cup quarter-final trip to face defending champions Leinster in Dublin.
“Obviously it was not welcome news coming back on Saturday morning,” said Baber.
“We did not want it this week but it has been dealt with.
“In fairness to the players they have understood what is going on, they were briefed by the chief executive (Richard Holland) and it has been dealt with quickly, we felt that was neccessary so we could focus our minds on what we need to do this weekend.“
Of the players, including Henson, who went out for a drink, he added: “They went out, several of them went out.
“But they did not take it to the excess that that individual (Henson) did. They came back to the hotel and they were fine.
“They are grown men and they are professionals. It takes a lot for players to wind down and we (backs coach Baber and forwards coach Burnell) were doing the same in the hotel ourselves.“
Henson’s departure from the Blues after just eight appearances follows on from similarly short stints with Saracens and Toulon last season.
It remains to be seen if any other clubs will be willing to take a chance on the 33-cap three-quarter, but former England skipper and British & Irish Lions colleague Lawrence Dallaglio says Henson needs to decide if he wants to be a “TV personality or a rugby player”.
Given his minimal impact on the field, Henson’s continued high profile owes a lot to his appearances on reality TV programmes Strictly Come Dancing, 71 Degrees North and The Bachelor.
“It’s a shame for him as an individual because as a player he’s shown at times immense potential,” he said.
“Gavin now needs to go away and think about what he wants as an individual.
“Does he want to be a TV personality or does he want to be a rugby player?“
Gavin Henson has been sacked by the Cardiff Blues following an incident on the flight back from Scotland after Friday night’s 31-3 defeat to Glasgow Warriors.
Here, we take a look at some of the controversies that have dogged the Wales centre’s career on and off the field.
October 2005: Henson releases a book entitled ’My Grand Slam Year’ chronicling Wales’ RBS 6 Nations success and his experiences on the Lions tour of New Zealand. Comments about other players and life in the Wales camp mean he is forced to apologise in front of his team-mates.
December 19, 2005: Henson is cited for elbowing Leicester prop Alex Moreno in a Heineken Cup game between the two sides. Henson is initially banned for 10 weeks and two days, which is reduced to seven weeks on appeal.
December 10, 2007: Henson is charged with disorderly conduct over his behaviour on a train after helping Ospreys beat Harlequins in the Anglo-Welsh Cup. The case is later dropped.
April 18, 2011: Having left the Ospreys for Saracens and then moved on to Toulon, things appear to be looking up for Henson when he scores a try on his debut for the French club. But after his second appearance against Toulouse he is involved in an altercation with two team-mates in a nightclub and is suspended for a week.