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Ex-Cardiff lock Down quits his Russian club with immediate effect

By Kim Ekin
(Photo by Kevin Barnes/CameraSport via Getty Images)

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James Down, the former Cardiff and London Welsh lock, has quit Lokomotiv Penza because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The 34-year-old second row has been playing for the Penza-based club since signing in July 2020 but has now returned to Wales without retrieving any of his personal possession and is looking for a new club. 

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Appearing on the BBC Sport Wales’ Scrum podcast, Down explained: “I made the decision I wasn’t going to go back, for safety and because politically I don’t agree with what is happening.

“I felt fine about the situation, we had left Russia for a training camp (in Turkey) and when we left we thought everything would be okay in terms of, we didn’t think there would be an invasion, we just thought it was a political statement for leverage. A couple of days into the camp we heard that Russia had invaded and it was time to come home then.

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“I just told the club I was resigning, basically,” he continued. “It is hard to be in a country that is doing what it is doing, an unjustifiable war. I don’t feel comfortable being there while all this is going on.

I don’t think my club see how big this war is, I think they think this will just blow over, that’s kind of their view, but they did accept my decision. They were very gracious with me and accepted my decision that I wanted to return home to my family. They accepted that straight away, which I was very grateful for.

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“It is not possible to go back, there are no real flights out, it would be difficult to go back and get my stuff. No one knows where this is going so for safety, it’s better to stay away. My stuff can be replaced, my problems are nothing compared to the suffering of the Ukrainian people, it is my inconvenience, but unfortunately all my stuff is in Penza in Russia.

“I was 100 per cent happy with the decision to play out there, the Russian people, the majority, have been good to me and have helped me and I had a great experience over there both playing and off-the-field with my experiences in Russia as well. How the situation is now, I can’t believe it really, it is so sad that this has happened.”

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