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Sunday, April 03, 2011

Gavin Henson scores on Top 14 debut for Toulon

Gavin Henson scores on Top 14 debut for Toulon

Gavin Henson had a dream debut for his new side Toulon the French Top 14 yesterday, scoring a try and setting up another as the home side romped to a 38-10 win over Stade Francais at the Stade Felix Mayol.

Since making his comeback after a period out of the game, Henson has made no secret of the fact that his goal is to play in the World Cup for Wales. While his talent and fitness has never been in doubt, whether or not he can back that up on the field is the main question.

He certainly checked a few boxes yesterday, playing the full 80 minutes, which would please Wales coach Warren Gatland, and of course the locals who watched on in anticipation.

"To play in front of that crowd every week would be incredible: the atmosphere in the ground was like an international. If that is what it is like for every game then I can't wait for the next match," said Henson.

"It was really tough coming to a new club with an injury but I have fitted in well and it's great to get my first game under my belt and I really think Toulon could be a perfect place to re-start my career. I love this part of the world and would be happy to see out my career here.

"I feel great and, more importantly, so does my body. It couldnt have gone better for me, to score a try and set up another was a great day. Its a dream come true.

"I was a bit nervous before the game. It has been such a long time since I was out on the rugby pitch and almost two years since I started in the number 12 jersey, so it was great just to play the full 80 minutes. The fact it was such a stop-start game probably helped me in that respect.

"This game will stick in the memory. To score on my debut, in front of that crowd and in front of my parents who came to watch, it's just amazing. Hopefully this is just the start," he said.

Below you can view his try, as well as the run and pass that set up Christian Loamanu's.

Posted by Rugbydump at 2:57 pm | View Comments (44)

Viewing 44 comments

Anonymous April 03, 2011 1:29 pm

Superb return for Henson
Needs to be back with Wales asap

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Anonymous April 03, 2011 1:31 pm

He's still a prat

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Wolfman21 April 03, 2011 1:42 pm

No doubting Henson's talent, but the guy has a horrible attitude.

I don't think he will be particularly welcome in the Welsh team, at least not with the players. He has let so many teams and team-mates down over the years.

Its a shame that immensely talented players such as him and Cipriani struggle to have the influence on the field that they should have based on off field problems.

On a side note, Joe van Niekerk celebrated Henson's try in a very passionate way! The French lifestyle must be rubbing off on him!

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Scotsdale April 03, 2011 1:47 pm

Not sure why so many people dislike him. He's a little strange in the way he behaves at times but who are we, the armchair pundits, to judge him? He's made a few odd decisions but he's certainly not a malicious type of guy.

That said, hopefully his rugby on the field does the talking from now on! Good start

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David April 03, 2011 2:28 pm

The Stade defensive coach appears to have been on holiday recently ...

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Anonymous April 03, 2011 2:36 pm

I like Gavin. He seems like a generously nice guy and has been trying so hard to get bk into rugby. I hope he continues with this form.

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Stacey April 03, 2011 2:53 pm

Jesis Gavin was running in that as if there was a bottle of hairspray in it for him

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Rowan DeBues April 03, 2011 4:16 pm

^^That's a good one.
What is it with Toulon that pulls peoples careers back on track? Wilkinson was fast fading at Newcastle and then improves enormously at Toulon. Sonny Bill got his break there and then Tana Umaga plays a couple seasons and is now back starting for the Chiefs in the Super XV. Don't want to judge after one game, but it looks like Gavin Henson will be enjoying his stay at Toulon as well.
Must have a pretty good set up there

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Anonymous April 03, 2011 4:18 pm

Contepomi will be a father for henson "lo va a tener de hijo"

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Anonymous April 03, 2011 4:42 pm

Seems to have lost a yard of pace but that could just be match fitness. His tan is coming along nicely too!

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Anonymous April 03, 2011 4:45 pm

where was the defence seriously????????

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bnd_ma April 03, 2011 4:49 pm

you guys really dont see why he's such a prat?

remember this is the guy who used his kids as an excuse to get out of his contract at the ospreys then fucks off 2 mins later.
this is the guy who thought after 2 games he could walk back into the wales squad.
the same guy who arrogantly stated that the welsh team have missed him and needed him.

not a prat at all

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Grumly April 03, 2011 4:55 pm

Bienvenue Toulon !!!!

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Anonymous April 03, 2011 4:59 pm


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Anonymous April 03, 2011 5:48 pm

That's because the Welsh team do need him. Wales are in a similar state to Scotland except slightly better at finishing off games. They're right on the edge of playing really badly and lucked through the six nations. I anticipate an early world cup exit and 5th place next six nations.

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Super Tuga April 03, 2011 5:58 pm

Its great to see Henson coming back like this! Although obviously lacking sportsmanship qualities, Gavin is extremely talented and one of my favourite problems.

I guess that those who said that Toulon didn't need him because they have Contempomi and Wilkinson (right, because they haven't lost Umaga and Sonny Bill)can seriously shove this match in their rear-ends!

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Flipje April 03, 2011 7:28 pm

Difficult to reach any conclusion after one game to be fair enough....but a very correct game for a first one....hope for him it will continue.

The team was under a lot of pressure after a poor run of games... I guess a lot of player did not come down of their clouds after the Hcup Munster game.....

I am so looking forward to the HCup quarter final....USAP / Toulon will be a Front Row game....I hope the referee keep a "cool approach" on this game....
The Village vs the Catalans, I really hope for a classic....

Still on the final result, if Leinster came get rid of Leiscester (which will not be easy), I cannot see anyone stopping them this year.....

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Anonymous April 03, 2011 7:33 pm

I did not understand any of that...

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Disco April 03, 2011 7:44 pm

Try translating it into your second language then back into English and I'm sure you'll get the gist of it, assuming you do speak more than one language proficiently, which Flipje clearly does. I understood exactly what he wrote, there were only a couple of errors.

Great to see a great player back changing games as he's always done.

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Flipje April 03, 2011 8:04 pm

A sorry if I was not clear.....I just tend to write straight what I am thinking.....unfortunatly sometimes with some mistakes......

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21 April 03, 2011 8:58 pm

I understood what Flipje said, I think Anon below him was just being a dick

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Juggernauter April 03, 2011 9:08 pm

Dear Gavin:
Keep that can of fake tan away,
Leave your ego at the door,
Work and train your bum out,
Get the head down and learn to follow orders,
Commit to the cause

And I'll see you in New Zealand

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Anonymous April 03, 2011 9:45 pm

I did not understand any of that...


Then obviously there's an issue with YOUR literacy. Was easily understandable.

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Unebrindille April 03, 2011 9:54 pm

On arriving, he was told by P Saint Andr to eat rugby, sleep rugby, dream rugby and nothing else. Apparently this was he has been doing for the last 2 months. Let's hope he carries on because it pays off.

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Anonymous April 03, 2011 10:03 pm

stade franais = no defense

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Anonymous April 04, 2011 1:15 am

Lots of people don't like Henson because he appears to have little love for the game. Henson has taken the celebrity footballer route in my eyes...from the NH point of view people like BOD (no I'm not Irish) are people who would still love the game if they were bumped back to playing for the local pub team, Henson on the other hand doesn't want to earn his position again. He is a great player no doubt, but his attitude is 'I was a great player I played for Wales therefore I get to start whenever and wherever I want!' which doesn't go down well, so personally u less this guy sorts out his attitude somewhat he will just be a footballer in my eyes...

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Anonymous April 04, 2011 1:25 am

Wow that second run is terrific.

I've watched it a ton of times and there was no gap. The line was tightest where he broke it, with 4 SF forwards in a clutter, he ran directly at them and not one of them went for him.

Watch it again, no gap and he sets up a cakewalk try. Outstanding.

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Jono April 04, 2011 2:21 am

That crowd looks awesome.

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Bobby Nations April 04, 2011 3:11 am

"there was no gap"

Um, well, yes and no. If you watch it a fifth time, you'll see a Toulon forward impede the two SF players that Henson cut around as well as the referee. Pretty neat bit of work, actually. Didn't catch his number, but he looked like a 2nd rower.

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Krang April 04, 2011 4:37 am

Well spotted Bobby.

As a Wales supporter, I want to see players earn the place in the team on the back of hard work and great performances. If Henson keeps it up, then he should be in with a very good shot.

Some players can have their reputation help them, especially those with a sustained high level of play at international level, such as Martin Williams (who I hope will go to the WC), but Henson's only had sporadic periods of form and lengthy interruptions, so if anything, I wish that his reputation counts as a negative against him, rather than allow him to walk back into the squad.

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Von April 04, 2011 8:57 am

I think Toulon fans must be among the best sets of rugby fans (or should that be fans of any sport) in the world.

Sat amongst a bunch of them at the Madejski v London Irish. Really passionate supporters, but with a keen appreciation of the game as well.

I'd 'king love to go to a match at the Felix Mayol - every single game you see there (on video), regardless of its significance, the crowd just seem to be going mental! Looks like an amazing atmosphere!

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Billy-Bob April 04, 2011 9:50 am

This might be a long shot - I am going to be in England in a couple of weeks time and would love to watch a Toulon home game. Is their an airport in Toulon? And if there isn't, where is the closest airport to the city?

Also, are tickets widely available? Or would I have to purchase them a couple of weeks before the game?

If any one knows, do please post to let me know!

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Fitness Equipment April 04, 2011 12:44 pm

AlrightIf he sticks to what he is supposed to be doing and leaves his ego at home

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FakeBake April 04, 2011 12:55 pm

A very good rugby player that doesn't really want to play, he likes money and fame.

Gavin Henson has the wrong mentality and is a bad example for children.

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Ben April 04, 2011 1:02 pm


I would suggest to travel to france first if you want to watch a home game of Toulon ;)

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Disco April 04, 2011 3:44 pm

@Billy-Bob - fly to Marseille then get the train along the coast to Toulon, that's probably your best/cheapest bet from the UK.

You can buy tickets at the ground an hour and a half to two hours before kickoff or online if your French is up to it :

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Unebrindille April 04, 2011 4:24 pm

Billy Bob, there are only 2 games left at home before the end of the season. April 16th will be against Toulouse but at Stade Vlodrome in Marseilles (which is home for us ;-D) and April 23rd against Perpignan at Flix Mayol. You should be quick if you want to grab tickets because both games will be crackers.

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4LC4TR4Z April 04, 2011 5:47 pm

@ Billy-Bob

April 16th in Marseille, some tickets are still available.
BUT : 60 000 crowd in Marseille is far more quiet than 15 000 in Toulon.

In 3 weeks in Mayol vs Perpignan (not the HCup quater final, a Top 14 game, the revenge ! :-D )

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(u-p)rick April 04, 2011 6:19 pm

LOL, im with Ben on this one billy bob!

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Anonymous April 04, 2011 10:33 pm

Great to see Henson back... one of the most naturally talented players in the NH

wish the media would leave him alone. they are out of line 90% of the time.

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Savannah Adams April 05, 2011 1:37 am

I agree with Scotsdale. I think it's good to have him back in rugby games. IDK, but I don't care much about the guy's attitude; it's his talent that made him big.

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Billy-Bob April 05, 2011 7:01 am

Thanks for the feedback about watching a Toulon game, and also the reminders that I will need to be in France to watch the game!

I had thought that my question about an airport would suggest that I would fly from England to France for the game!

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4LC4TR4Z April 05, 2011 10:01 am

Of course there are airports, in Marseille or Nice, not too far away, and a little one in Toulon-Hyeres for low costs (from Liverpool, Dublin or London)

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Anonymous April 06, 2011 9:02 am

I really hope wales take a full fit squad to the WC with Gavin Henson included. And for christ sake dont leave andy powell on the bench. We get it gatlan eh got pissed and stole a golf cart - for most of us that makes him a hero!

and im not even welsh!

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