When it comes to great players in the history of Cardiff Rugby there are some who are legends at the Arms Park, some who are legends through Wales, but there’s a select few who are legends in the history of rugby union as a sport; Gethin Jenkins is certainly one of those.
During an 18-year career in professional rugby the man they call ‘Melon’ revolutionised the role of prop from a player who primarily scrummaged and added a body to breakdowns, to a player that could combine scrummaging with jackaling, carrying and tackling like a mix of an openside flanker and an inside centre.
Hailing from Llantwit Fardre, he was schooled in Beddau where he started his rugby career aged 13, going on to play for Pontypridd Youth, on permit at Treorchy and then into the first team at Sardis Road, where he played 62 times in three years from 2000-2003.
During that time Jenkins caught the attention of the national team, making his debut against Romania in November 2002 and controversially being selected on the tighthead under Steve Hansen. By 2005 though he was installed as the starting loosehead where he played a crucial role in the first of his three Grand Slams and four Six Nations triumphs.
He would finish that 2005 season on the British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand, starting all three tests, and doing the same in two tests in South Africa four years later, only missing out in 2013 due to injury as he continued the long line of great Cardiff players to make their mark in that famous red jersey.
It was at the Arms Park we remember him most though, arriving after the demise of the Celtic Warriors in 2004 and playing an incredible 195 times over the next 14 years, with one of those spent at Toulon in a brief spell, helping the Rouge et Noir win the Heineken Cup as well as come in runners-up in the Top14.
Back at Cardiff, Jenkins was part of the squad that has won all three of our trophies in the post-2003 era, starting the 2009 Anglo-Welsh Cup Final and the 2010 Challenge Cup Final, captaining the first team on multiple occasions, before retiring due to injury in November 2018.
Since then he has continued to be part of the illustrious history at the Arms Park, taking a role in developing the next generation of stars as an Academy coach and as a member of the coaching staff that won the WRU National Cup with Cardiff RFC in 2019, before heading on to be the defence coach of the Welsh National Team.
A Cardiff legend, a Wales legend and a Lions legend, Gethin Jenkins is simply one of the greatest loosehead props to ever play the game.
'A History of Blue and Black - The Greats' is a new series brought to you by Cardiff Blues, in association with CF10 Rugby Trust and local artist, Tim Driscoll. We look back at the life and careers of Cardiff Arms Park's most iconic figures - from the rugby team's inception in 1876 through to the 21 century and the regional era