Belfast Telegraph

Friday 24 October 2014

Tyrone Howe: Gavin Henson should simply take a leaf out of Robinson’s book

Last Saturday there was a stark example of two completely different approaches to rugby and life.

While Jason Robinson was rolling back the years by coming out of retirement to play for Fylde RFC in National Division Two North, Gavin Henson was strutting his perma-tanned body on Strictly Come Dancing.

Jason Robinson is a phenomenon and true legend of the game. He has achieved everything in rugby, in both league and union codes. A British and Irish Lion, he was the sole try-scorer for England in their famous 2003 World Cup final victory, and he is surely one of the most exciting players of his or any other rugby generation.

So, the big question is why? Robinson is a complex character and his experiences as a professional coach with Sale left him disillusioned with the off-the-field side of rugby and the frailties of human nature in general. He has returned to what he knows best — Robinson needs rugby and wants to put something back into the local community.

Having just turned 36, he is an advert for clean living and Billy Whizz still possesses the twinkling feet, devastating acceleration and change of pace for which he is best known. In short, he has made the most of his ability but feels that there is another chapter left in the story.

On the other end of the spectrum is Gavin Henson, whose self-imposed retirement from the game gives the impression of someone who does not fully appreciate or respect the sporting ability with which he was born.

Let us not forget that Gavin Henson is a Grand Slam winner, but his behaviour off the pitch has undermined anything that he has achieved on it.

Henson, like Robinson, is a complex individual. Whatever he thinks, rugby can survive without him.

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