Wales great Jones retires

Date published: August 20 2015

Wales and Lions back row Ryan Jones has been forced to retire from rugby after failing to recover from a shoulder injury.

The 34-year-old had been playing for Bristol this season but required surgery following the first leg of their play-off clash with Worcester.

He had initially hoped to return in October, but has now been advised by medics to call time on his career to avoid the risk of significant damage.

"Regrettably, I have to announce my retirement as a professional rugby player with immediate effect," Jones said in a statement.

"The old cliché of making the decision with a heavy heart is true on this occasion. The last few weeks have been emotionally tough for me. I’ve had to recognise, and come to terms with, the fact that while the mind is still very willing, the body is no longer able to do what I want it to on a rugby pitch.

"After sustaining a shoulder injury in May and subsequently undergoing surgery to repair the damage, it became clear that I could no longer carry on, leaving me with little option other than to call time on what has been an incredible personal journey.

"Rugby has been a huge part of my life for the last decade and a half; not just as my job but as a passionate hobby also. There is no doubt that no longer working all week towards a big match at the weekend will leave a huge gap in my life that a few rounds of golf won’t fill!

"Looking back on my career, I can say that I have enjoyed some fantastic highs and, although there were some well documented lows along the way, the overriding feeling is one of immense pride and satisfaction. If someone had told me 20 years ago that I was going to achieve and experience a fraction of what I have then I would have been over the moon.

"Throughout my career I’ve been extremely fortunate to be a part of some fantastic teams, for club and country, and to play in front of the best fans in the world in some of the best sports stadiums. I’ve met countless wonderful people on and off the field, and shared dressing rooms with all-time legends of the game – many of whom I can now call personal friends. Not bad for a late starter at Risca Youth!

"Highlights of my career obviously include three Grand Slams with Wales and four league titles with the Ospreys, but I can’t take a final bow without referencing the stand-off against the Haka in 2008. It was absolute theatre and although I never got to beat the All Blacks, I think we can claim that victory at least.

"Over the coming months though, I’m looking forward to spending more time with my wife, Ailsa, and our young family, who have sacrificed so much to allow me to fulfill my dreams. Ailsa has been a constant rock by my side, always keeping me grounded during the ups and giving me the support I’ve needed during the downs. For that, I’ll always be extremely grateful."

Jones captained Wales on 33 occasions, and was part of three Grand Slam-winning teams between 2005 and 2012. He was also called into the British and Irish Lions squad on the 2005 tour to New Zealand where he was one of the Lions stand-out players. In 2009 he also joined the squad, however did not play a game because of a head injury.

Jones won 75 caps in total for Wales, and a further three for the Lions while he also won three Celtic League titles during his time with the Ospreys.