By Paul Jones
Cardiff trio Gareth Thompson, Callum Bradbury and Terri Gee are all leaving the Arms Park to join former Premiership champions Merthyr – as confusion over any re-start throws clubs’ planning into chaos.
The three players have made their exit following uncertainty over how Cardiff will fit into any overall structure once rugby resumes.
“It’s always a shame to see players moving on, but with so much uncertainty surrounding when the Premiership will be able to get back to playing, and what the Blues, who hold our licence, want to use the team for, you can’t blame anyone,” said Cardiff RFC chairman, Chris Norman.
“I’d just like to thank all three for their efforts and we hope one day to see them back with us. We’ve been told the Blues want to use Cardiff as a breeding ground for their Academy talent next season, but we’re not sure how things are going to work just yet.
“My biggest concern at the moment is how we will be able to mix and match players from the professional and semi-professional rugby worlds.
“It was a point raised at a meeting of the Premiership clubs recently and we’re not sure if any regional players will be able to play in our league.
“We’re not likely to return to play this year, so maybe things will have moved on by then, but given the strict COVID-19 guidelines issued to the professional game on back to play protocols, I don’t know whether they will be able to risk playing in a team comprising players who aren’t subject to the same measures.
Gareth Thompson makes it look incredibly easy with the step off the left foot and turn of pace to put Tom Williams over against Carmarthen in January 2019.
Williams made 70 appearances between Cardiff RFC and Cardiff Blues across two spells at the Arms Park, scoring 22 tries. pic.twitter.com/U1g3NM31NC
— Cardiff Rugby Life (@CardiffRugbyWeb) July 15, 2020
“The last thing we want is any form of cross-contamination that puts the players of either side at risk of having to go into isolation.
“Perhaps we will have to consider planning a season without any input from the regions into any of the 12 Premiership sides.”
At present the Cardiff RFC website is only showing one player in their current squad, Blues Academy player Ioan Davies, underlining the confusion that is currently surrounding the likely make-up of the Blue & Blacks next season.
Head coach Steve Law had signed 24 players for the new campaign, but that figure has now dropped to 17. There has also been no decision made as yet on who will support Law in the coaching.
Flying wing Gee, who notched five tries in seven games on his return to the Arms Park last season, used to play for the Ironmen, while Thompson moved into seventh place on the club’s all-time points scoring list.
— Merthyr RFC 🏉 (@RFCMerthyr) December 31, 2019
The outside-half took his tally in 105 games since 2012, to 951. That leaves him 21 points short of the modern day Gareth Davies and behind Adrian Davies (1,162), Alun Priday (1,316), Lee Jarvis (1,339), Mike Rayer (1,422) and the other Gareth Davies (3,117).
Former Wales U20 lock Bradbury had been training with both the Blues and Dragons last season, but failed to follow in the footsteps of fellow second row James Ratti in achieving a full-time professional contract.
He made 11 appearances last season for the cup holders as they led the way in the Premiership table.