Alun Wyn Jones

ALUN WYN JONES is the world’s most-capped rugby union player and has been captain of the Ospreys region, the Wales national team and the British and Irish Lions.

He is one of a small group of Welsh players to have won three ‘Grand Slams’ including Gerald Davies, Gareth Edwards, JPR Williams, Ryan Jones, Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins. He was named as the best player of the 2019 Six Nations Championship.

Further achievements include amassing 21 appearances at four Rugby World Cups and being part of four Lions tours, while in 2017 he became one of only seven players to have beaten South Africa, Australia and New Zealand in each of the three major southern hemisphere nations.

In May 2021, it was announced that Jones would captain the British and Irish Lions on their 2021 tour of South Africa. He became one of only four players to have been selected to go on four Lions tours, a feat he achieved crossing three different decades.

Despite a potentially tour-ending shoulder injury against Japan, the second row went on to make an astounding recovery to match Lions legend Graham Price’s achievement of playing 12 consecutive Tests.

Add to that multiple domestic Championship titles for regional club side Ospreys and it is easy to see why many consider Jones the greatest to have ever donned the Welsh red.

With a combination of irrefutable leadership skills, exhaustive work rate, brilliant ball handling and controlled aggression, Jones is rightly deemed one of Europe’s top stars in the modern era.

Neil Jenkins – the first man to achieve 1,000 points in Test rugby – said of him: “He has always wanted to be the best and strive to be the best, and over a long period he has achieved that.

“He seems to get better with age. Wales have had some incredible rugby players, and he is up there as one of the best, if not the best.”

Born in Swansea on September 19, 1985, Jones played his first rugby for Bonymaen RFC and, as a quiet child but with towering height and huge desire, quickly made his mark.

He attended Llandovery College and studied part-time for a degree in law at Swansea University, graduating in 2010.

Jones made his debut for Ospreys in 2005 and spent his entire senior career there, making well over 200 appearances.

In August 2010, the Ospreys announced that Jones would succeed Wales team-mate Ryan Jones as club captain for the 2010–11 season.

On December 8, 2016, Jones broke the Ospreys’ record for the highest try-scoring forward as he touched down for his 21st try.

“Alun Wyn is a man I have huge respect for,” said Ospreys head coach Allen Clarke. “He is greatly admired not just because of what he’s achieved and what he represents as a local boy playing for his home region and country, but importantly because of the ambition and level of performance he consistently displays.”

Having previously represented Wales at under-21 level, he made his Test debut for Wales in June 2006 against Argentina.

Originally playing as a blindside flanker, he later became a lock forward. It was as a lock that he featured, and excelled, in Wales’s 2007 Six Nations campaign. He was a member of the Wales side that completed the Grand Slam in the 2008 Six Nations.

In March 2009, Jones captained Wales against Italy in the Six Nations, becoming the 126th player to be captain of the country.

Jones made his 100th appearance for Wales when they faced South Africa in the quarter-finals of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, but Wales were knocked out of the competition with the Springboks winning 23–19 and going on to win third place overall.

He took part in the 2016 autumn internationals but had to miss the first match due to the death of his father, Tim. He returned to play Argentina in which he won the man of the match award.

Jones was again named as captain of the Welsh squad for the 2017 Six Nations championship after Sam Warburton’s demotion.

In 2019, Jones captained Wales in their Grand Slam victory and was named Player of the Championship in a public vote organised by Guinness, the tournament’s sponsor. Following the game, he was referred to by Jonathan Davies and others as “the greatest ever” Welsh rugby player.

On September 29, 2019, in a game against Australia at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, he became Wales’s most-capped player, overtaking the record of 129 caps held by Gethin Jenkins.

Then, on October 24, 2020, Jones equalled Richie McCaw’s record for the most international appearances in world rugby, 148 caps, during Wales’s 38-21 loss to France and, a week later, became the most capped international player of all time when he earned cap 149 against Scotland.

Wales were given little chance of success in the 2021 Guinness Six Nations Championship, as Wayne Pivac and his new coaching team went about a painful rebuilding period, but Jones was soon lifting the ‘Triple Crown’ trophy as a rejuvenated Welsh team followed up victories over Ireland and Scotland with a 40-24 mauling of the old enemy, England, in Cardiff two days before St David’s Day. Despite a last-gasp defeat to France in Paris which denied Wyn Jones his fourth Grand Slam, Wales went on to win the Six Nations Championship by a four-point margin.

In 2009, Jones was one of 13 Welsh players selected in the squad for the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa. He scored a try on his debut for the Lions against the Royal XV. He started the first Test and came on as a replacement in the second and third Tests.

Jones was selected for the Lions’ 2013 tour to Australia. Due to Sam Warburton’s tour-ending injury in the second Test, Jones was selected as captain for the deciding third Test in Sydney, which the Lions won 41–16. This made him the first substitute captain to lead the Lions to victory in the final Test of a series since 1904.

Following the 2017 Six Nations campaign, Jones was selected for his third British and Irish Lions tour. During the tour he became one of only seven Lions players to have beaten South Africa, Australia and New Zealand while touring these countries, following the 24–21 win in the second Test. Jones started in all three Tests of the series against the All Blacks.

After leading Wales to its third Grand Slam and fourth Six Nations championship in a decade, Jones was offered the freedom of Swansea, joining the likes of Wales football stars Chris Coleman and John Charles in receiving his home city’s highest honour.

Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council, said: “Barely had the final whistle gone following the Grand Slam-clinching victory over Ireland before we began the process that will lead to Alun Wyn being awarded the freedom of the city.

“This honour is richly-deserved not just for the skill he shows on the pitch in every game he plays. This honour is in recognition of Alun Wyn Jones’s leadership and the example he sets to the rest of us.

“He’s a great ambassador for Swansea, working with the council and other organisations to raise the profile of the city and attract investment here.

“He is a credit to himself, to the world of sport and to his home city. Alun Wyn Jones is someone every young person can aspire to learn from. He has amazing presence on the field and is an inspiration to thousands.”

SA Brain launched the ‘Ale Wyn’ beer in tribute to Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones in 2017

Jones was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2020 Birthday Honours for services to rugby union football in Wales.

In 2014, Jones was presented with an honorary degree from Swansea University. On receiving the award he said: “When I left University after a five-year degree, I thought my potential achievements going forward would have been centered around my rugby career, but to be awarded this is special and pretty humbling. I fondly remember my time at Swansea and particularly a Varsity win.”

Jones and his wife, Dr Anwen Jones, have two daughters.