Has Wales legend Alun Wyn Jones played his final game?

Dylan Coetzee
Wales legend Alun Wyn Jones may have played his last game

There was only ever one player that would end up playing a rugby match for both teams in the same game and it is Wales great Alun Wyn Jones.

In what is still surprisingly only Jones’ second game for the Barbarians, the legendary second-row captained the historic club side against Swansea RFC before switching shirts at half-time to play for the team where it all began.

6,238 fans flocked to St Helen’s and were treated to a wonderful occasion loaded with impressive skill, enjoyment and camaraderie. The Barbarians ran out eventual 66-38 victors on the day.

Few have been and will be awarded such an opportunity in a rugby union clash but this match was a cause for celebration as Jones, the most capped Test player in history, announced the end of his international career two weeks ago.

Is it all over?

Jones’ announcement only specified his retirement from Test rugby but the celebration of his career over the last couple of weeks suggests otherwise. This all begs the question, has he played his last game?

After last Sunday’s Barbarians game against the World XV the veteran claimed he was unsure what the future holds for him.

Nevertheless, regardless of whether Jones continues to play or not his journey in rugby union is well worth celebrating.

The start

It all started at Swansea RFC in 2004 with a teenage second-row playing for the side whilst in the Ospreys academy. Over two years he would notch up 35 caps for the club.

During that time Jones made his senior debut for Ospreys in 2005, which proved to be the first of many as the Welshman ended up with a whopping 257 appearances spanning over an 18-year period.

The second-row captained the side for several seasons and remained a key leader throughout. He also holds the record for the most tries scored by an Ospreys forward with 24 scores.

Whilst the 37-year-old’s club career is impressive in his own right, it was on the international scene where Jones made what will be a long-lasting impression.

Test arena

Jones debuted for Wales against Argentina in 2006 after having represented his country throughout the age level groups that included a Grand Slam in the 2005 U21 Six Nations.

He would establish himself as a regular by 2007 when he started all the games in the Six Nations. Jones’ trajectory continued to soar and he played a key role in Wales’s first win at Twickenham in 20 years as part of a 2008 Grand Slam and by 2009 he led Wales out for the first time as captain.

His growing stature and leadership qualities earned him selection in the first of four British & Irish Lions tours in 2009, against South Africa. Although the series was lost Jones would win the Australian tour four years later before sharing the New Zealand series in 2017 and the great man would lead the historic side to South African shores in a Covid-influenced 2021 series.

One of the greats

Meanwhile in the Wales set-up Jones was well entrenched as a trusty figure in Warren Gatland’s plan and together went on to win four more Six Nations titles, three of which were Grand Slams and one a Triple Crown, cementing his place as one of the northern hemisphere greats.

In 2020, Jones surpassed the great Richie McCaw’s all-time appearance record of 149 Tests to become the first and only player to play 150 international matches. He retired with a total of 158 Test caps.

Whether the second-row is finished or not remains unclear but there is no doubt Jones is one of the greatest to ever pick up the oval ball and his longevity is a testament to his skill, professionalism and sheer dedication.

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