‘I was good for the game’: Gavin Henson claims rugby ‘crying out for a personality’

Former Wales centre Gavin Henson believes that rugby is “crying out for a personality” and claimed that he was “good for the game” during his time in the sport.

The wickedly talented back won 33 caps for his country between 2001 and 2011, touring New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions in 2005.

A career at times studded with controversy and a much-publicised relationship with singer Charlotte Church made Henson one of the most recognisable rugby players of his generation.

Reflecting on his career in an interview with The Times, Henson believes rugby needs more players to embrace their personalities if an all-too-often crisis ridden sport is to again thrive.

Saying that he can “understand why people say” that his potential was unfulfilled, Henson explained: “Personally I felt I was good for the game. I could have been better for the game. Did it rub people up the wrong way? Maybe. The attention, or the way I was? I don’t know. Are we crying out for a personality to be in the game right now? Probably, yes.

“I like watching football, see. I always watched Man United. Eric Cantona, Ryan Giggs, the flamboyant footballers, white boots. I loved the entertainers. I was driven by playing for the coach but also for the fans — I just wanted to entertain.

“I don’t know why but that’s the way I was. I didn’t want to score tries, I didn’t want the limelight like that. I preferred putting people in. I’d like to think I wasn’t selfish at all.”

Henson and Church had two children together before their relationship came to an end in 2010 during a period in which Henson was taking a break from professional rugby.

The 41-year-old now owns a pub, The Fox, in St Brides Major, near Bridgend.

After a permanent retirement from union in 2019, Henson made a brief return to rugby in 2021, swapping codes to feature for the West Wales Raiders in rugby league’s Challenge Cup.

Now, though, it is football that occupies Henson’s recreational time, thriving as a defensive midfielder for pub team Super Fox United.