Welsh second row James Down has quit Russian club Lokomtov Penza after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Down signed for Penza in July 2020 from Cardiff.

After 12 years at his home club and 132 first-team appearances, he made the move to Russia.

He has now returned to Cardiff looking for a new club – having not been able to retrieve his possessions from Penza.

Down said: “I made the decision I wasn’t going to go back, for safety and because politically I don’t agree with what is happening.”

Talking to BBC Sport Wales, the former Cardiff lock said he had been enjoying his rugby in Russia before the invasion.

His side was in Turkey on a warm-weather training camp when Russia attacked Ukraine:

“I felt fine about the situation, we had left Russia for a training camp and when we left we thought everything would be ok in terms of, we didn’t think there would be an invasion, we just thought it was a political statement for leverage,” Down said,

“A couple of days into the camp we heard that Russia had invaded and it was time to come home then.”

Following the news, the Welshman instantly informed his club of his departure.

“I just told the club I was resigning, basically,” he said.

“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.”

He added:

“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% 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,” he added.

“How the situation is now, I can’t believe it really, it is so sad that this has happened.”