So long, farewell

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So with the changing of the seasons from 2019/20 to 2020/21, there are arriving and departing squad players to send off and welcome.

Of course it’s slightly different this time round as most players have actually already left or joined, with rugby returning to finish last season in a truncated fashion.

However, with Cardiff Blues now confirming the squad for next season it’s time to run through who has headed for pastures new over the last 12 months.

Macauley Cook

Cardiff Blues Academy graduate Cook departed the Arms Park over lockdown after 10 seasons playing for the club, during which time he became a real fan favourite as a hard working flanker who can cover at second row.

The 28-year-old made 167 appearances for Cardiff Blues since making his debut in November 2010, scoring 17 tries, as well as playing 48 times for Cardiff RFC, picking up a European Challenge Cup winner’s medal in 2018.

Cook has headed for Jersey Reds in the Greene King Championship, linking up with former team-mates Tom Williams and Jack Roberts who will play in the English second tier next season.

James Down

A second Academy graduate headed out the door in recent months is second row Down, who leaves the Arms Park for a second time after a previous spell at London Welsh.

The 32-year-old has spent the best part of the last 14 years at Cardiff Blues, amassing a huge 132 appearances in all competitions, as well as playing 111 times for Cardiff RFC, winning the European Challenge Cup, Welsh Premiership and Welsh Cup.

Down has made a big career move heading for the Russian Premier League and Lokomotiv Penza in the federal region of Penza Oblast. Since arriving he has helped his new side to finish top spot in the regular season, with the semi-finals set to take place in the middle of next month.

Nick Williams

After a stellar 16 years of professional rugby, Big Nick Williams has hung up his boots over lockdown, bringing an end to a career that has spanned three decades, six clubs and four countries.

Starting out with North Harbour, the number eight quickly got called up by the Auckland Blues and established himself in Super Rugby, before heading for the Northern Hemisphere with Munster in 2008. From there it was a two-year stint at Aironi before returning to Ireland with Ulster where he became a true cult hero at Ravenhill.

After four years in Belfast, Williams arrived at the Arms Park and quickly established himself as a fan favourite, playing 77 times for Cardiff Blues and helping us to the European Challenge Cup in 2018. A true great of the game on and off-the-field, the talisman will be particularly missed in the Welsh capital.

Rhun Williams

Another player who called time on his career was full-back Rhun Williams, but unfortunately it wasn’t on his own terms as a nerve injury in his shoulder has forced the 22-year-old to hang up his boots at such a young age.

Having started out with RGC, Williams signed for Cardiff Blues on the back of a successful Wales U20 campaign in 2016 and after a short spell with Cardiff RFC he made his senior first team debut in November with a try away at Benetton.

Going on to make a total of 29 appearances over the next 16 months there was talk of a senior Wales call-up at one point, but unfortunately he picked up the serious injury making a tackle away at Zebre in February 2018 and two years on it forced him to put an end to his playing career.

Filo Paulo

Another player who has left the Arms Park for a second time, although without the length of service of James Down, fellow second row Filo Paulo has headed for pastures new after a six-month cover spell.

The 32-year-old made 49 appearances for Cardiff Blues between 2013 and 2015, before spending time at Benetton and London Irish. After featuring for Samoa at last year’s Rugby World Cup he returned to the Welsh capital to provide cover in the under-strength area of lock.

Paulo played six times in all competitions, before his contract expired during lockdown and he headed back to New Zealand, where his career started, signing for the Manawatu Turbos in the Mitre10 Cup.

Ryan Edwards

Also a short-term signing, Edwards arrived from Bristol in Febraury after injuries to Hallam Amos, Owen Lane, Josh Adams and Matthew Morgan left Cardiff Blues depleted in the back three.

The winger, who had provided similar cover back in February 2018, made just the one appearance against Benetton at the Arms Park, bagging himself a try as part of a bonus point win.

Lockdown put an end to his stint with the club, and with his contract up at parent club Bristol Bears, Newport-born Edwards is now looking for a new side ahead of the 2020/21 season.

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