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War of words erupts over Alex Dombrandt's move from Cardiff to Harlequins

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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While Alex Dombrandt debuted for England this year and has set a goal of taking over as the nation’s first-choice number 8, the multi-talented loose forward could have been lining up for Wales in a different timeline.

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Dombrandt, although born in Surrey, relocated to Wales following high school where he represented Cardiff Metropolitan University in both the classroom and on the rugby pitch.

The 24-year-old was offered a contract with Cardiff Rugby during his second year of studies in 2017 but he turned down the offer and ultimately signed for Harlequins, where he’s now established himself as one of the best ball-running forwards in Europe.

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With Dombrandt’s form reaching dizzying heights over the past month, culminating in the number 8 scoring a hattrick of tries against Northampton in the latest round of Premiership matches, many have questioned how Cardiff and Wales weren’t able to hold onto a player of such obvious talents.

Some contention has now arisen on Twitter regarding the circumstances of Dombrandt’s departure from Cardiff, with The Rugby Paper writer Peter Jackson suggesting that Cardiff weren’t willing to sign the loose forward unless he gave up on his university studies.

Jackson wrote:

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“In 2017 Cardiff Rugby offered Alex Dombrandt a contract worth around £20k on condition that he gave up studies. ‘I didn’t want to do that,’ he told The Rugby Paper last summer. ‘I’d done two years…it would have been a waste of my time to pack it all in.’

“The following year, his degree course completed, Harlequins offered Dombrandt three times as much. They love ‘Dommers’ at Cardiff Met as one of their own, this ‘big teddy bear of a bloke’ with an unhealthy appetite for cream cakes.”

Unsurprisingly, Twitter users were quick to criticise Cardiff and piled on the club for their ostensibly poor decision-making.

The likes of former Wales representatives Jonathan Davies and Andy Powell also joined in, questioning how Cardiff let Dombrandt go.

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Cardiff, however, quickly attempted to hush the discontent and suggested that many who were commenting on the matter didn’t have the full picture.

While it’s possible that Dombrandt did consider playing for Wales at some stage – as evidenced by his decision to play for their Under 20s side – the 24-year-old is now a long-term candidate to slow into the England backrow and could be a major player at the next Rugby World Cup.

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