The curtain fell on his top-flight career a decade ago, but former Wales and Lions Test wing Dafydd James has revealed he received an audacious approach from a Welsh Premiership club to join them at the age of 43.

Pontypridd were keen for the 51-cap player to have a season playing semi-professionally with them.

James had featured in a testimonial game two years ago for club stalwart Dafydd Lockyer and been named man of the match, playing for a Lockyer Select XV against the then Sardis Road first XV.

The long-striding threequarter — who also figures in the World Rugby Classic from Bermuda to be shown on S4C on Monday night — finished playing high-grade rugby after a 15-year career that had taken in 10 club and regional teams and hit a high with three Test appearances for the Lions against Australia in 2001.

A neck injury hastened an earlier-than-expected end but after receiving an all-clear he has played golden-oldies rugby over the past decade and proven himself one of the fittest and fastest players on the circuit.

But the offer from Pontypridd to play for the 2018-19 season still took James by surprise, coming as it did 20 years after he ended his first spell with the club.

The campaign in question also began after his 43rd birthday.

“I’d played quite well in that testimonial game and after the match they offered me a contract to play for them,” says James.

“They were even willing to let me play as and when I wanted, rather than in every game. I was a bit flattered, because of my age, and thought: ‘Yeah, I can do this’.

“I went home and the next morning I was aching all over, my bones were sore, having played a full game of rugby.

“I thought: ‘I’ll be up against 19 or 20-year-olds and some of them will be looking to take my head off. Someone’s going to get hurt.’

“I thought: ‘Do I need that every week?’

“The obvious answer was no, so I turned them down. But it was an interesting offer and it shows that if you stay fit and motivated beyond 35, and the environment is carefully controlled, then rugby is possible for a while after that age.”

Ex-Wales and Lions star Dafydd James

Even though time takes a toll on all in the end, James has looked after himself physically and the 44-year-old remains as well-conditioned as players a decade-and-a-half younger.

At his peak he was a lethal attacking weapon with his strength and ability to move up the gears quickly. On that Lions tour 19 years ago, a writer described him as regal after one effort in opposition to Joe Roff. The Bridgend product etched his name in the record books in Europe, too, by becoming the first man to score 25 tries in the Heineken Cup. Make no mistake, he could play.

Since his retirement as a professional player he’s had personal struggles that he’s bravely spoken about.

But he’s been a regular and much-in-demand performer with the Classic Lions team in Bermuda, playing in a tournament there as recently as last year.

The the standard can be good with the entertainment factor usually high.

Managed by Wales great Allan Martin, the Classic Lions team have always had a healthy representation from Wales, with the likes of Colin Charvis, Chris Wyatt and Ceri Sweeney featuring in recent years.

For James, the tournament’s enduring appeal for players, spectators and sponsors has been the open and expansive rugby, an ethos that needs to be carefully protected, he believes.

“You need to be quite fit to play there, which suits me because I still train every day and have done since I retired. I suppose I’m addicted to training," he says.

“But you need more than that to make it work. You need the team to play in the right spirit and throw the ball around.

“Scrums are uncontested, which is the right way to go, but some teams abused that by putting their backs into the scrums and then charging their forwards into people from midfield.

“I just thought: ‘Guys, that’s not what this is about. You’re there to entertain people, not play a style of rugby that’s going to put people off by just bashing it up into bodies. There’s enough of that in the modern game, without it going into the over-35s.’”

Allan Bateman and Mark Taylor after the final whistle as the Paul James Select XV take on A Classic Lions XV

Some rugby players, it seems, would happily go on for ever.

Another former Wales and Lions star, Allan Bateman, was still playing for Heol y Cyw when he was 48.

Even now, at 55, the Maesteg product would be unlikely to turn down an outing for a good cause.

The ex-Wales prop John Davies was in the mix for Crymych at close on 50.

And James is cut from similar cloth with his passion for the game.

He still plays veterans rugby at the Dubai Sevens, where there are a number of different competitions including his favoured 10-a-side.

And he’s a regular within Wales at testimonial matches, including last year’s jamboree for former Wales prop Paul James, which featured Lee Byrne, Shane Williams, Allan Bateman, Adam Jones, Ryan Jones, and Rowland Phillips.

“The weather in Bermuda is pretty good, you can go out on a catamaran on the ocean or play golf and there are some nice restaurants,” he says.

“It’s a wonderful place, but there’s also nothing like playing with other guys in front of Welsh crowds as well.

“I think there’s a market for that kind of rugby because it’s open and attractive and just good fun to play in and watch.

“People go away having seen a high-scoring game, with lots of tries and skills and it’s memorable.

“That’s often not the case in the current professional game, where it might end up 12-3, with players just bashing into each other, re-set scrums, yellow cards for high tackles, and players offside at the breakdown all day.

“Who wants to remember that?”

S4C - Monday 13/07

21.30 – Clasuron Bermuda (Bermuda Classics)