Former Wales & Lions Star Makes Return To Rugby 7 Years After Retiring
Former Wales and Lions star Gareth Cooper has made a return to rugby, seven years after he retired.
The 37-year-old scrum-half returned to rugby with his grassroots club on Saturday when he came off the bench for Pencoed RFC in their WRU Plate clash at Abercarn.
Cooper began his career with the Welsh outfit before going on to have spells with Bath, Gloucester, the Celtic Warriors, the Dragons and Cardiff Blues.
The decorated half-back won 46 caps for Wales, played in two World Cups and was part of the Grand Slam triumph of 2005. That same year he went on to be selected for the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand.
In November 2010 he parted company with the Cardiff Blues due to a long-standing groin problem.
Pencoed’s secretary Steve Pope explained that Copper wanted to give something back to the club.
“He always said he would come back and play a few games for us one day,” said Pope.
“And he has kept true to his word.
“He had a bit of training session with us and everything held up, so he decided to have a little crack off the bench to support the boys.
“He looked really sharp when he came on. You could see he was a different class.
“I know he really enjoyed the game. He did take a couple of cheap shots, one at a ruck and one in a tackle.
“There’s always a chance of that happening when you have a big name turning out at our level. Some of these young boys will say ‘Have a bit of that’. That’s how it is.”
Pencoed has produced a host of Wales and Lions stars over the years, with Scott Gibbs, Gareth Thomas and Gavin Henson having all started out with the club too.
“When players move on to bigger and better things, we always say to them they go with our blessings, but never to forget us,” said Pope.
“It’s great to see Gareth has remembered us.”
Pencoed unfortunately didn’t win the game, losing 30-12, but no doubt it was a special day for Cooper and all those involved at the club.