Used to playing to packed venues, one of Wales’ top rugby players dropped-kicked his life story into a packed audience at the Blake Theatre last week.

Sam Warburton OBE played 175 times for Cardiff Blues and captained Wales at the U18, U19 and U20 level and made his full Welsh debut in 2009. He went on to play 74 times for Wales, as captain a record 49 times, taking them to the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup.

He has won two Six Nations Championships and one Grand Slam and was awarded an OBE for his sport and charity.

In typical self-effacing style, he said it was a better reception to what he normally expects and was surprised so many people wanted to come and listen to him speak; "I get mistaken for George North a lot, maybe half of you thought it was him here tonight," he joked.

"I get called George all the time and take it as a compliment because he’s 6’ 4", got abs, massive legs, I get really chuffed by it."

12 months ago Sam retired from rugby but was pleased that his career has allowed him to be a role model for kids. He recalled when he went to a swimming pool, a middle-aged woman was "eyeing me up". She eventually came over and explained she was a primary school teacher and thanked him for being a good influence on her pupils. "That’s what I’m really going to miss," he said.

Moving on to the elephant in the room, Wales had reached the semi-final of the Rugby World Cup for the first time in 24 years and Warburton, as captain, became only the second Wales player to receive a red card in a World Cup after a dangerous tackle on Vincent Clerc.

He was aware that 10-15 million people were watching him: "You know the ref is never going to put that card back in his pocket." He thought "whatever I do, don’t swear as mum will go absolutely mental."

Flying back home he felt guilty but found the waiting lounge full of the French players, so he hid in the corner. When the last call for his plane came through "all the French players got up as well"!

So he waited until the last moment, but found they were in his cabin and they started giggling.

"I thought that was just plain arrogant and rude and put my bag in the overhead locker".

He then looked down at his seat and saw he was to be sat next to Vincent Clerc. "I just burst out laughing, he looked up at me, we shook hands and he said in that French accent ’Ah Warburton, you geeve me massage on my back eh?"

Sam lives in a suburban three-bed semi and shops in his local Sainsbury and still gets shoppers popping their head around the aisle saying to him, "Sam, it was never a red card"!

The evening was sponsored by Aitch and Aitch Bee in partnership with St Michael’s Hospice.