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Alun Wyn Jones retires after record-breaking Wales career

Alun Wyn Jones retires after record-breaking Wales career

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Alun Wyn Jones has confirmed his retirement from international rugby after a record breaking 158 games for Wales and 12 Tests with the British & Irish Lions.

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Speaking on social media, world rugby’s most capped player of all-time said: “Having been selected in this year’s preliminary Rugby World Cup squad and after ongoing dialogue with the coaching staff and the WRU, I’ve decided to step away from the international game.

“So, after 17 years I look back on special memories with Welsh greats and future Welsh greats. My grandfather and father both nurtured my passion for rugby in my younger days which has continued throughout.

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“The opportunity to be professional in the sport I love was a dream come true and to represent my home region, the Ospreys, and clubs within the region, namely Mumbles and Bonymaen, who guided me in my formative years, was beyond special and something for which I’m hugely grateful.

“A huge thank you to the staff and players who have been part of my journey, I wish you all well for the future.

“To the supporters, thank you for the support and making the most special occasions even more memorable.

“To the people closest to me, my family, I couldn’t have done it without you. Through injury, loss and success you’ve always been there and will be for whatever’s next. Despite all I have accomplished, my children will always be my biggest achievement. Diolch.”

Alun Wyn Jones celebrates with his wife and children.

Jones leaves the game as the most capped Test player in rugby history, having represented Wales 158 times and the British & Irish Lions 12 times captaining both sides in an international career spanning 18 years.

He made his senior Wales debut on tour against Argentina in 2006 with Wales’ Guinness Six Nations finale against France in Paris earlier this year being his final game in the red jersey.

Wales senior men’s head coach Warren Gatland said:“I’d like to congratulate Al on a phenomenal international career. His leadership, dedication and determination are second to none and he has been an incredibly special player for Wales over the past 17 years.

“Every single time he has taken to the training pitch or put on the red jersey in a Test match he has given his absolute all: setting standards and leading by example. I am very fortunate to have been able to have worked with him, with Wales and with the Lions.

“Al’s passion and commitment for his country are limitless and he has been an important pillar for the game in Wales. He and his family can be immensely proud of all he has achieved and in knowing he leaves a lasting legacy in Welsh rugby.

“We all wish him the very best for the future. Diolch yn fawr iawn am bopeth Al.”

The final anthem from AWJ in his 158th Welsh Test v France this year

Wales senior men’s international number 1046, Jones had previously played for Wales at Under 18 and 21 levels, helping the 2005 Wales U21 side to complete the Grand Slam. He has since gone on to win the senior Grand Slam three times in 2008, 2012 and 2019.

He was also in the side that won the Six Nations title in 2013 and played in the historic win in Bloemfontein in July 2022, where Wales men beat the Springboks in South Africa for the first time.

Having learned his rugby at Bishop Gore School, Llandovery College, Mumbles RFC and Bonymaen RFC, Jones played for Swansea while in the Ospreys Academy. He became the Ospreys captain in 2010/11 season and held the post until the end of the 2017/18 campaign.

At the Ospreys he was in the side that beat Leicester Tigers to win the Anglo-Welsh Cup at Twickenham in 2008, the Magners League Grand Final against Leinster in Dublin in 2010 and led the side to their 2012 Pro 12 Final win against the same opposition in the Irish capital.

He became the 129th captain of the Wales senior men’s team, when he led the side against Italy in the Six Nations in 2009, and went on to captain his country 48 times in his illustrious international career.

A law graduate from Swansea University, he became the fifth Welsh player to reach a century of caps for his country. He reached three figures in the first Test against New Zealand in Auckland in 2016.

Jones was selected for the 2009 British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa. He started in two of the three Tests and was a replacement in the other international against the Springboks.

He played in all three Tests in the 2013 tour to Australia, captaining the side in the absence of Sam Warburton in the decisive third and final Test in Sydney that saw the Lions win their first series in 16 years.

He then toured New Zealand with the Lions in 2017 and once again played in all three internationals in the drawn series against the World champions. He was named tour captain for the 2021 series to South Africa and captained the side in all three Tests after an incredible recovery from a shoulder injury sustained in a warm up match against Japan.

He is one of a small number of Lions players to have won a Test match in each of the three major southern hemisphere nations.

>WRU interim CEO Nigel Walker added: “Alun has been the ultimate servant to Welsh rugby.  A powerhouse in the pack his mobility around the field and his inspiring leadership both on and off the pitch has been second to none. His longevity is testament to his professionalism, passion and desire to represent his country.

“He is a unique and impressive individual, his record of achievements in the game stand for themselves and it will be a long time before we see his like again.

“He will be missed on the international stage by Welsh rugby supporters around the globe.  He retires from international rugby having earned the respect of all those who have had the pleasure of seeing him play and he is a credit to the game.”

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