Alun Wyn Jones receives rapturous reception as Wales legend bids farewell

Colin Newboult
Wales legend Alun Wyn Jones getting a huge reception in his final professional match.

Wales legend Alun Wyn Jones getting a huge reception in his final professional match.

Wales legend and the sport’s record Test cap holder, Alun Wyn Jones, played his last game of professional rugby in Toulon’s Top 14 clash with Clermont Auvergne.

The great second-row started and was also named captain in the final match of his professional career on Saturday.

Jones played for 66 minutes before he was replaced and given a huge ovation by everyone at Clermont’s Stade Marcel-Michelin.

Return to the field

However, the lock would return to the field near the end of the encounter to help set up the winning try as Toulon claimed a superb 30-27 victory.

Auvergne gave him a shirt before the game and then the fans rose to acclaim him when he was replaced by Adrien Warion.

“I never thought I would be here finishing my career,” Jones said ahead of the match. “I am just really grateful to Toulon for the welcome I have had.

“I have only been here four months, and I appreciate I won’t have the impact other foreign players have had here, but the welcome I have had from the fans, the city of Toulon, has been very special.”

Fellow rugby legend and current Toulon assistant coach Sergio Parisse said that they were inspired by the presence of Jones.

“We played for Alun Wyn Jones tonight, and this result doesn’t surprise me because we have players just like him: humble, hard-working. He’s a source of inspiration for our team,” Parisse said.

Remarkable career

The second-row made his Ospreys debut in 2005 and a year later was earning the first of his 158 Wales caps.

Jones played for 17 years at international level, breaking Richie McCaw’s cap record in the process. He would end on 170 in total – with 12 appearances for the British and Irish Lions added to the number – before his shock retirement earlier this year.

The 38-year-old caught everyone by surprise when he ended his international career in May ahead of the Rugby World Cup before he then left the Ospreys.

There was a question as to whether Jones would call it a day at the end of the 2022/23 season, but the Barbarians, whom he played for against Wales earlier this month, and Toulon gave him an opportunity to have a proper send-off.

READ MORE: Alun Wyn Jones skippers Toulon in his final professional match