Tom James set to leave the Cardiff Blues

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Cardiff Blues post-2003 record try scorer Tom James will leave the Arms Park this summer after his contract was terminated by mutual consent.

The 32-year-old has played 163 games for the club since making his debut against Edinburgh in November 2006, his most productive year coming in 2007/08 when he scored 11 tries in all competitions, on his way to crossing the whitewash a total of 60 times.

He departed for Exeter in the summer of 2013, playing 38 times and scoring eight times in all competitions, winning the Anglo-Welsh Cup during his time at Sandy Park, and has also won 12 Wales caps during his time as a Cardiff Blue.

Returning in 2015, he scored 17 more tries in his first two seasons back at the Arms Park, but took some time away from the game in the second half of the 2017/18 campaign due to suffering from mental ill health.

James would only play for the first time on one more occasion, starting away at Glasgow in January, instead spending the second half of the season with hometown club Merthyr, helping the Ironmen win the Principality Premiership.

Speaking to the Cardiff Blues official website, TJ said, “It’s been a frustrating season for me, and I would’ve liked to have pulled on a Cardiff Blues jersey one last time but I’m very grateful for the times I’ve had.

Tom James Glasgow 2011
Tom James is the Cardiff Blues top try scorer

“The Blues have been unbelievable to me. Throughout my break from the game everyone was so supportive, from teammates and coaches to directors and supporters, but particularly the team doctor Gareth Jones, sports psychologist Dale Thomas and our WRPA representative Phil Davies who have been amazing.

“Cardiff Blues gave me that time off that I needed and stood beside me, and when I came back in, they have really looked after me.

“It was tough coming back in for pre-season following a long break and that also led to lots of little niggles that stunted my progress. That must have been frustrating for the coaches as well, but when you look at how well the other wings have been performing then you can understand.

“But over the last two months I’ve really felt like I am hitting my peak again. I have been pleased with my form in the Premiership and while that is a different level, I feel I stand out.

“I’ll just see what happens now. I will be training hard over the summer and if another professional contract comes up then I will definitely look at it with my family because I’m 100 per cent confident I can still do a job at the top level. I really wanted to get back into that Cardiff Blues first team, but it wasn’t to be.”

“When I was playing for Merthyr and the Blues offered me the chance to join, it took me about six months to do it. I had no interest in playing at this level, but I am so grateful that I took that leap.

Tom James Dragons
He has crossed the whitewash 63 times in blue

“There are so many great memories – making my debut up in Edinburgh and scoring, winning the EDF, that good run in the Heineken Cup that led to us winning the Challenge Cup in 2010. Looking back to that semi-final against Leicester, it was unbelievable. The atmosphere on that day is hard to beat. Sadly, Martyn (Williams) missed the kick, forget my one!

“There were so many highs that day and that try was probably up there with the best I’ve scored for Cardiff Blues but then I missed the kick.

“The team we had back then was amazing. At the time I was just coming onto the scene and didn’t really think anything of it but when you get older and look back, it was unbelievable. “We virtually had three internationals in every position. If they did an all-time Cardiff Blues XV then most of those boys would be in there. It was a pleasure and honour to play with them.

“Then, to have the opportunity to come back to my home region after two years with Exeter was great.

“To play at the Arms Park for four more seasons has been such a privilege and the fans have been awesome throughout. Even during my time off they were so supportive towards me and I was constantly getting messages from them.

“With so many exciting, young, local boys coming through, the future is certainly bright at Cardiff Blues. I’m not sure yet where I will be playing next season but I’m definitely looking forward to coming to the Arms Park as a supporter with my son Teddy.”

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