James Down makes Russian move

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Second row James Down has departed Cardiff Blues for a second time as he heads for Lokomotiv Penza in the Russian Premier League.

The 32-year-old has amassed a huge 243 appearances across Cardiff Blues and Cardiff RFC over the last 14 years, 132 first team outings and 111 for the Blue and Blacks, while also turning out 24 times for London Welsh during the 2014/15 campaign.

Down made his Cardiff Blues debut in January 2007 against Border Reivers in the Magners League, as it was then, but had to wait until the 2011/12 season before properly making his breakthrough.

During that time he played in five games on the way to the European Challenge Cup triumph in 2018, while he also started two Welsh Cup Finals for Cardiff RFC, on the losing side in 2007 before lifting the trophy in 2019.

He will now head for Penza on the Sura River, some 400 miles south-east of Moscow, where Lokomotiv play at the Pervomaysky Stadium. The squad currently includes Georgian international hooker Giorgi Chkoidze, and former Southern Kings scrum-half Rudi van Rooyen.

Speaking to the Cardiff Blues official website, Down said, “I grew up supporting Cardiff and Cardiff Blues so to play for my home region for so long has been an absolute dream, especially at the Arms Park.

“I’m am eternally grateful for the opportunities I have had and have so many fond memories from winning Welsh derbies to big European victories on the road against the likes of Pau, Lyon and Toulouse.

“The supporters have always been brilliant with me, particularly after I suffered that serious ankle dislocation, and I can only thank them and all the guys at the Arms Park. I am now looking forward to the next chapter in my career and I leave with nothing but good memories and friends made.”

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