Former Wales captain signs for amateur Division Two side at 31 in surprise announcement

Ellis Jenkins of Wales
-Credit: (Image: Ben Evans/Huw Evans Agency)

Former Wales international Ellis Jenkins has made a near immediate return to rugby by signing for Division Two East side Llantwit Fardre just weeks after retiring.

The Cardiff Rugby legend confirmed in April that he would be hanging up his boots at the end of the season, calling time on a professional career that saw him represent the region nearly 150 times and win 13 caps for Wales. He also captained his country on four occasions, while he was the skipper for Cardiff's 2018 European Challenge Cup final victory over Gloucester in Bilbao.

However, the back-row's career was derailed by a serious ACL injury suffered at the end of a man-of-the-match performance against the Springboks in 2018, which kept him out of the game for more than two years.

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The length of that lay-off led to Jenkins admitting afterwards that he'd come to terms with not returning to rugby at one point, but he fought back to make over 40 more appearances for Cardiff and turn out for his country four more times. He even captained Wales again, taking the armband for their clash with Australia in 2021, while he won his last international cap at the Six Nations the following year.

Jenkins said he had decided at the start of the 2023/24 season that it would be his last, admitting that his knee "still requires a lot of management" and means he is "no longer able to train at the way I would like".

But less than two months after playing his final professional match against Edinburgh - which saw him again forced off through injury just before the half hour mark - the 31-year-old is back in the game, with Llantwit Fardre announcing his signing over the weekend. Jenkins, who hails from Church Village, is returning to the club that he spent the early days of his career with, before he progressed through the Cardiff age-grade sides.

The National League 2 East side confirmed the signing on X, with a post reading: "Ahead of our 125th Anniversary Season our Men’s squad has been strengthened with a number of quality signings. With a talented group stepping up from the Youth team, & retaining our top class existing senior players, the #125 looks like being a special one."

Jenkins is one of 11 new signings to be announced by the club, with Merthyr's Morgan Sieniawksi, Beddau's Ben Lee, Rhydyfelin's Jamie Probert and Llanharran's Dafydd Slade joining Pentyrch pair Barry Topping-Morris and Rhys Emmott at the club. Unattached players Rhys Edwards, Gruff Rees, Nabil Squires and Jordan Thomas have also joined ahead of the new campaign.