Tom James Bows Out . . . Still Cardiff Blues’ Most Lethal

Tom James Bows Out . . . Still Cardiff Blues’ Most Lethal

Former Wales wing Tom James has announced his retirement from rugby at the age of 33.

Currently with the Scarlets, James made his name with the Cardiff Blues and went on to earn 12 international caps, in a 14-season career during which he scored 86 tries in 234 appearances for Cardiff RFC, the Blues, Exeter Chiefs, the Scarlets and Wales.

James joined the Scarlets at the start of the current season, but made just four regional appearances before the current shutdown.

“With a lot of time to think, I’ve made a decision to retire from professional rugby,” said James.

“I have loved the opportunity that the Scarlets have given me this season. It’s been an awesome experience meeting new players, coaches and staff who will be friends for life.

“Looking back, I have some wonderful memories over the last 14 years; from signing my first contract at Cardiff Blues, running out onto Twickenham to make my Wales debut against England in 2007 and the couple of seasons I had with Exeter Chiefs.

“I’ve had unbelievable experiences in so many countries and that is all down to rugby.

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“I have been fortunate to have been coached by the best coaches and have played with some of the best players in the world, including my idol Gareth Thomas.

“To all the supporters, the rugby family as a whole, I can’t thank you all enough, but the biggest thanks of all goes to my own family, friends and the many people who have helped me through my career.”

A talented former 400m, 800m and cross-country runner, the Merthyr-born player joined his home town club in 2003 after switching to rugby in his late teens.

He made an immediate impact at Cardiff Arms Park after joining Cardiff in 2006 and made his breakthrough for the Blues in the same season.

By the following year, James had earned his first cap as a 20-year-old – against England at Twickenham in the build-up to the 2007 World Cup – but aside from his debut it was a day to forget as Wales lost 62-5.

Renowned for his pace, power and stamina, and usually identifiable by a scrum-cap, James became an instant hit among Blues supporters and his tally of 60 tries for the region makes him still their all-time record tryscorer.

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One of those came in the 2009 EDF Energy Anglo-Welsh Cup Final at Twickenham, as he picked up a winners’ medal in a rampant 50-12 victory.

James also scored a try against Leicester Tigers in the same season during the Heineken Cup semi-final at the Millennium Stadium. The match finished as a 26-26 draw after extra-time and went to a famous penalty shoot-out in front of the posts.

Martyn Williams missed his kick to enable the Tigers’ Jordan Crane to win it and take his team through to the final, but not before James had missed his chance to win it for the Blues.

James’ final appearance for Wales came in the 27-23 victory over Scotland at the Millennium Stadium in the 2016 Six Nations.

James left the Blues for a successful two-season spell in the English Premiership with Exeter Chiefs in 2013, before returning to the Blues in 2015.

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He also returned for a second spell with Merthyr and was on the bench when the Ironmen lost 25-19 to Cardiff in the final of the WRU National Cup.

Scarlets head coach Brad Mooar said: “TJ has been awesome. Unfortunately, he picked up a couple of knocks back to back, so from a playing point of few he didn’t get as many opportunities as he would have hoped for.

“However, that never lessened his spirit or drive. An outstanding professional on and off the field, as a senior pro and class man, the value he has brought with his experience, presence and bubbliness has been superb.

“I am thrilled for TJ that he has had this positive experience at the Scarlets and is now able to make this decision on his own terms. Having enjoyed an outstanding career, all of us at the Scarlets wish TJ, Brooke and their children well for the future.”


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