Record-breaking Alun Wyn Jones will go down as a rugby union all-time great
Alun Wyn Jones will go down in rugby union historical past as an all-time great of the sport. The 37-year-old Ospreys lock has introduced his retirement from worldwide rugby after a profession that reaped a world document 170 Take a look at match appearances – 158 for Wales and 12 for the British and Irish Lions.
His Wales odyssey spanned 17 years, whereas he captained his nation and the Lions.
And he will rightly be lauded in the identical revered firm as Welsh rugby legends such as Sir Gareth Edwards, Barry John and JPR Williams.
Jones’ worldwide profession started 7,500 miles from house on the sporting outpost of Estadio Raul Conti in Puerto Madryn, Patagonia.
Chosen by new Wales coach Gareth Jenkins alongside James Hook, Richard Hibbard and Ian Evans amongst 4 debutants within the match-day 23 towards first Take a look at opponents Argentina that June afternoon, a 20-year-old Jones began as blindside flanker.
Little may anybody have identified that it could launch approaching 20 years in a Wales shirt.
He set a new nationwide cap document when he overtook former prop Gethin Jenkins throughout the 2019 World Cup.
After which he moved previous New Zealand World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw’s mark of 148 caps, sustaining unbelievable consistency of efficiency in one of many sport’s hardest taking part in positions.
He helped Wales win 5 Six Nations titles, together with three Grand Slams, performed in 4 World Cups and helped Wales attain two World Cup semi-finals.
Within the early phases of Jones’ Take a look at profession, although, Wales have been inconsistent performers.
No larger an illustration of this got here on the 2007 World Cup, the place a dramatic pool stage defeat towards Fiji in Nantes meant an early exit and coach Jenkins shedding his job.
Warren Gatland’s appointment as Jenkins’ successor in early 2008 kick-started a spectacular change of fortunes, with gamers like Jones, Sam Warburton, Mike Phillips and Taulupe Faletau to the fore.
Wales reached the 2011 World Cup semi-finals earlier than having Warburton despatched off and shedding by a level to France, have been quarter-finalists 4 years later after which semi-finalists once more in Japan in 2019. Jones made extra World Cup appearances than every other Welshman, proving a driving power on the worldwide stage.
And his Lions chapter was equally as spectacular, with solely two gamers – Willie John McBride and Dickie Jeeps – taking part in in additional Checks than Jones did.
He was an ever-present in 4 Lions Take a look at sequence, with captaincy on the 2021 tour to South Africa fittingly rewarding his standing within the recreation. He additionally led the Lions to a Take a look at series-clinching victory over Australia eight years earlier when Warburton was injured.
Given Jones’ health ranges, it could have been no shock to have see him being chosen for a fifth and closing World Cup marketing campaign in France later this yr.
However he has determined to name it a day on rugby union’s largest stage, and Wales – possibly even the world recreation – are unlikely to see his like once more.