Matt Butler: Yet another early Bath for Gavin Henson, the floored talent
Henson only signed last month – his fifth club in two years – and already the club are investigating an 'incident' on Wednesday night
When Gavin Henson signed for Bath few predicted that things would go smoothly. Many wanted him to do well; after all, under the orange-tinted visage and over-gelled hair there exists a supreme rugby talent.
But as the former Wales international has a catalogue of disciplinary misdemeanours in almost every place he has stopped on his nomadic career, there was a good chance of him getting involved in something violent, embarrassing, drunken or a combination of all three.
And so it has come to pass. Henson only signed for Bath last month – his fifth club in two years – and already the club are investigating an “incident” on Wednesday night. To be specific, Henson was punched in the face. By a team-mate. In the pub.
Speculation could run rife over what caused his colleague to knock him out in the Pig and Fiddle (that’s the name of the pub, by the way, not rhyming slang for his mug) but as per protocol, the club are looking into the facts. And the facts, according to the police were that there was “aggressive behaviour” at the pub, according to a witness, but no action was taken as the group left while the caller was on the line. Witnesses also claim Henson was acting the big “I am” before his team-mate’s disciplinary action.
A Bath statement read: “Bath Rugby can confirm there was a minor incident in the city centre on Wednesday night involving a few members of the playing squad. The club are investigating the matter as a priority and will only make a statement when further information is available.”
It would be funny if it wasn’t a little tragic. Henson is undeniably talented, as his part in two Wales Grand Slams shows. But he is possibly the least-suited man to the limelight. And as a big fish in a small pond – or Bath, as the case may be – his reputation as a trouble magnet could only be enhanced.
After lighting things up for the Ospreys in the early 2000s then becoming half of the Welsh Posh and Becks when he married Charlotte Church, the world was his oyster. But then he got injured.
He spent two years out of the game, split up from Church and participated in a slew of reality TV programmes, before signing for Saracens in 2010. It was a big deal – he made noises about being ready to come back to rugby having learned from the past, and he was joining a club very much on the up.
Shame he had to delay his debut because he was competing on Strictly Come Dancing. And if this didn’t make his commitment sound hollow, his departure after only four games did.
Toulon was his next stop and more trouble was to follow him there. Near the end of the season he was suspended for an “incident” in a bar involving team-mates. Funny how these things keep repeating themselves.
He managed to convince Toulon to keep him, but he was off again in October 2011, to Cardiff. And guess what? He had his contract terminated after a drunken “incident” on a flight home from Edinburgh after a game.
Last season was relatively quiet – he moved back to the capital to play for London Welsh, and even though the team were relegated, things went well for him off the pitch.
It convinced the Bath chief executive, Nick Blofeld, to take a punt on the 31-year-old centre, saying only three weeks ago that Henson “is a much more settled and mature person than that image we have in our head”.
Wednesday’s incident would suggest that the image in our heads is still close to reality.
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