So long, farewell

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As the 2022/23 season dawns for Cardiff Rugby with the players back in pre-season training ahead of the new campaign, it’s time to say goodbye to those who have departed over the summer.

As Dai Young begins his overhaul of the squad at the end of his first full year in charge, 13 players have headed out the Arms Park door since the beginning of last season, with the aim being to reduce the size of the first team squad as budget cuts bite and a “quality over quantity” approach is adopted.

Here’s the list of the 13 Blue and Blacks who have left the club over the last 12 months, plus a nod to those Academy players who have moved on to pastures new;

Rhys Gill

Loosehead prop Gill will depart Cardiff for a second time this summer as he hangs his boots up after a 16-year professional career.

The 35-year-old made his Blue and Blacks debut way back in May 2006 off the bench at Munster but struggled to establish himself in the first time ahead of a 2009 move to Saracens having featured 54 times for the Rags.

In seven years Gill would make 145 appearances in North London, as well as making his Wales debut against Ireland at Croke Park in the 2010 Six Nations, going on to win seven caps. He would win three Gallagher Premiership winners medals and a Heineken Champions Cup winners medal in his time with Sarries.

The Treorchy man would return to the Arms Park in 2016 though, playing 72 more times in Blue and Black, and winning a European Challenge Cup, before bringing his career to a close with 222 senior first team games to his name. He will focus on a number of established business interests in retirement.

Scott Andrews

Another front row retirement this summer sees tighthead prop Scott Andrews finish his senior professional career 13 years after making his first team debut off the bench away at Ulster in April 2009.

The 32-year-old would go on to establish himself as a Cardiff player during the 2010/11 campaign and win his first of 14 Wales caps against the Barbarians in June 2011, being part of the squad that won the Six Nations Championship in 2013 and securing a European Challenge Cup winners medal with the Blue and Blacks in 2018.

Loan spells at Bath and Worcester would come later in his career but it was at the Arms Park he made his mark throughout the majority of his career, finishing with 189 appearances in all competitions as well as 11 Rags appearances so far. Andrews will now take up a full-time coaching role with the Academy and Rags, as well as remaining available for selection at the semi-professional level.

Hallam Amos

The first backs retirement was a somewhat unexpected announcement earlier in the season as full-back Hallam Amos has chosen to call time on his career at the age of 27 to focus on a new profession as a doctor.

He burst on to the scene as a teenager, making his Dragons debut as a 17-year-old away at Wasps in an Anglo-Welsh Cup game in October 2011, before making his mark on the first team at Rodney Parade the following season and then making a Wales debut as a 19-year-old against Tonga in the 2013 Autumn Internationals.

After 115 Dragons games he made the move to Cardiff in 2019, making 44 appearances in all competitions and finishes with 46 tries in 159 club games, as well as six tries in 25 Wales caps encompassing the 2015 and 2019 World Cups.

Jason Tovey

The final retirement of the summer sees fly-half Tovey hang his boots up at the professional level after 14 years appearing for the Dragons, Edinburgh, Cardiff and a host of Welsh semi-professional clubs.

He made his debut for the Dragons away at Ospreys in April 2008 and would go on to play 174 times for the club in three stints at Rodney Parade, holding their all-time points scoring record with 1009 to his name.

Tovey departed Newport the first time in 2012, spending a season at the Arms Park where he made 17 appearances in all competitions, before his second move came to Edinburgh where he played 34 times between 2016 and 2018.

The 33-year-old then returned to Cardiff in 2019 where he played a further 28 times to finish with over 250 career games and over 1300 career points. He will now play for and coach local side Ynysddu alongside a tiling business.

Garyn Smith

On to the players who are continuing their careers elsewhere and Garyn Smith will head for the Cornish Pirates of the English Championship next season after eight years at the Arms Park having made his debut away at Newcastle in an Anglo-Welsh Cup game in November 2014.

The Academy graduate would go on to establish himself in the first team during the 2017/18 campaign having featured regularly for Pontypridd in the intervening years, finishing that season with his infamous contributions in the European Challenge Cup Final in Bilbao where he scored a try and won the all-important last penalty that was kicked by Gareth Anscombe.

Altogether Smith finishes with 10 tries in 115 games for Cardiff and heads to the south-west as one of the most decorated Academy graduates in the professional era.

Lewis Jones

Another leaving after a long association with the club is scrum-half Jones who makes the short switch across the wetlands to the Dragons having been on loan at Rodney Parade for the majority of last season.

The 29-year-old had a difficult start to his Cardiff career after being released at the age of 18, but after impressing for Pontypridd he returned to the professional ranks to make his league debut away at Edinburgh in September 2011, establishing himself as firmly second choice behind Lloyd Williams by the 2012/13 season.

Jones would go on to play 127 games for the Blue and Blacks in all competitions, as well as making 23 appearances for the Rags, including missing a large part of the 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons due to a serious knee injury.

Will Boyde

A surprise departure this summer is the back rower Boyde who has agreed to a mutual termination of his contract just three years after arriving from the Scarlets.

The 27-year-old hails from Narberth and came through the development pathway in West Wales, properly breaking into the first team in Llanelli in 2016/17 and playing a major part as the Scarlets won the Guinness Pro12 that season.

After two more years at the Parc, including a Heineken Cup semi-final, he made the switch to the capital and made an immediate impression during the covid-hit 2019/20 campaign before a serious eye injury kept him ruled out for many months and almost cost him his eyesight. Returning to action this year he impressed again to take his total to 32 Cardiff appearances but now departs for an unconfirmed location.

Alun Lawrence

Another Academy graduate heading on to a new club is back rower Lawrence who has joined Jersey Reds permanently after impressing on a six month loan during the second half of the season.

The 23-year-old made his debut in January 2018 in an Anglo-Welsh Cup clash away at Leicester before John Mulvihill awarded him a post-covid run in the first team matchday squad after impressing for Pontypridd pre-pandemic.

However, the number eight generally found game minutes restricted and, despite some eye catching performances at lock during the misfits Heineken Cup week just before Christmas, he will now head to the Channel Islands for the immediate future having made 25 first team appearances for the Blue and Blacks.

Iestyn Harris

A slightly confusing one this as Wales U20 international Harris is certainly a talented player in a position at hooker where Cardiff are certainly not exactly rich in quality.

The 23-year-old had been on the wrong end of wretched injury luck with a serious knee injury and then a serious shoulder injury during the first misfits game against Toulouse just as he was about to break into the first team after a solid spell playing for the Rags.

In the end he would only make three first team appearances at the Arms Park, likely falling victim to the fact that senior hookers in the squad were on longer term contracts than him, and has now taken an opportunity with Exeter Chiefs for whom he made his debut against Harlequins in the final week of the season.

Ben Murphy

In a similar fashion to Lawrence before, lock Murphy found first team opportunities restricted during his time at the club having been initially released at 18 before re-signing after impressing for Merthyr as they took the Premiership by storm.

From 2017 to the pandemic there were just six first team appearances for the 26-year-old, and despite Mulvihill also giving him a run in the first team post-covid, it was too late for the second row to make an impact.

Murphy leaves the club with 18 appearances to his name and has joined English Championship side Doncaster Knights to continue his career.

Sam Moore

A signing that just did not work out for the player or the club as Moore departed earlier in the season after two years at the Arms Park where he was restricted to just three starts and five substitute appearances for the Blue and Blacks.

The 23-year-old joined Cardiff from Sale shortly before covid hit having enjoyed a dramatic rise to public awareness early in his career when he was invited to train with Eddie Jones’ England side after a standout campaign for the U20s.

However, chronic knee injuries that led to a susceptibility to head knocks and muscle problems kept him sidelined for multiple spells and in the end it was agreed to let him go to take an opportunity with Ospreys where he is yet to make his debut.

Luke Scully

The 22-year-old fly-half joined from Worcester Warriors having impressed for their A side and Wales U20 but a mixture of bad timing and bad injury luck severely restricted his development chances during his two years at the club.

Joining in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic meant there was no Celtic Cup or Indigo Group Premiership to get regular game time for Cardiff A or the Rags, while there was only the opportunity for one senior appearance off the bench against Ospreys on New Year’s Day 2021.

A loan spell at Cornish Pirates came in the second half of that season but a serious knee injury has kept Scully sidelined throughout 2021/22 and with his contract up he has returned home to the Ospreys to continue his career.

Immanuel Feyi-Waboso

A case of bad luck for the club on this one as the centre/winger departs Cardiff in a situation totally out of the hands of anyone at the Arms Park.

The 19-year-old came through the development pathway and was one of the first Academy members to be contracted while at an education establishment over the Severn Bridge as he attended Clifton College in Bristol.

However, the plan beyond that was thrown into disarray as an application to Cardiff University’s School of Medicine was unsuccessful seeing Feyi-Waboso instead head for Aston University in Birmingham and sign for Wasps. He made one competitive appearance off the bench against Ospreys in the Rainbow Cup.

Academy departures

The headline leavers from the Cardiff Academy this season as Wales U20 duo Nathan Evans and Ethan Fackrell who depart after successful campaigns at the U20 Summer Series in Italy.

20-year-old tighthead prop Evans came out of the Cardiff & Vale College programme and made six Rags appearances last season alongside playing for Glamorgan Wanderers and appeared in one of the misfits games, while flanker Fackrell, also 20, graduated the Coleg y Cymoedd programme played four times for the Rags alongside Ystrad Rhondda games. Evans now heads for the Dragons while Fackrell goes permanently to RGC where he spent some time on loan last season.

Louie Hennessey-Booth will also leave the club after signing for Bath alongside attending the University of Bath. The centre made one Rags appearance while contracted to Cardiff as captain of the Hartpury College 1st XV, but has accepted a substantial offer from the English club to continue his career at The Rec.

Finally, winger Jake Thomas departs after making four competitive appearances for the Rags last season, but will stay on the radar as he continues to appear for Cardiff University in BUCS Super Rugby.

Pob lwc to all in the next steps of their careers and lives, and diolch for all you’ve given to the Cardiff jersey!

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