Lockdown means Alun Wyn Jones’ historic moment will not be a family affair

By Phil Blanche, PA
·4-min read

Alun Wyn Jones will become world rugby’s most capped player without his family present after a request to the Welsh Government for them to attend was rejected because of national coronavirus rules.

Jones will win his 149th Test cap in the Guinness Six Nations finale against Scotland on Saturday, but his family are unable to share the moment with him in Llanelli because of the lockdown situation in Wales.

The country is in the middle of a two-week firebreak lockdown, with non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants, cafes, gyms and leisure centres all closed.

“The question was asked,” Jones said about whether his family would be able to attend the game.

“Had it been different, a normal occasion, we would have cracked on and nothing would have been said.

“Permission was asked from the government for an exceptional circumstances. But in the grand scheme, one day in a lifetime is nothing considering we are in a hard lockdown and large parts of Wales were in local lockdowns before that.

“Our families are very understanding and the difficult part of it is, if this was an away game it would be easy to take in many ways.

“But the fact it’s at home and we can’t have fans, we can’t have family, it is what it is.

“The ability to just have the game is far and away the overriding pleasing point of it all.”

Second-row forward Jones will become Test rugby’s most capped player over 14 years on from making his debut in the back row on Wales’ 2006 summer tour of Argentina.

The 35-year-old equalled New Zealand flanker Richie McCaw’s 148-cap mark in the friendly defeat to France last week, but he will now stand out on his own after making 140 appearances for Wales and nine for the British and Irish Lions.

RUGBYU Wales
RUGBYU Wales

“You are only as good as your next one as your last one,” said Jones, keen to play down his individual achievement.

“I have been fortunate to have the opportunity. I ultimately don’t feel worthy to be mentioned in the same sentence as some of those people you are alluding to.

“I am just conscious who I do it for, what I do it for, and where I am from, and I will treat Saturday in the same vein.”

Asked about the added attention, Jones said: “I’m slightly uncomfortable with it and I don’t particularly like it. It does feel like a sideshow to be honest.

“I want to get out and play, get the performance we need. I am hugely flattered, but ultimately it is words and the game will move on next week and that’ll be that focus.”

Wales are in desperate need of victory with four successive defeats – their worst run since 2016 – piling the pressure on head coach Wayne Pivac.

Scotland have won their last three games, building on Six Nations wins over Italy and France in the spring with a 48-7 Murrayfield victory over Georgia last week.

“Physically and fitness-wise we were there, but from our game ready, essentially we got found out and credit to France for taking those opportunities,” Jones said.

Wales v France – Guinness Six Nations – Principality Stadium
Wales head coach Wayne Pivac is under pressure after four successive defeats (Adam Davy/PA)

“There was a clear view of what we need to improve on and the physicality and collision area of the game needs to increase.

“Ultimately elite sport and international rugby is about winning and that starts with performance.

“Scotland have arguably got one of the best brands of rugby out there. They’ve added guys to the squad who’ve done well and been very successful of late, playing play-offs and finals rugby.

“They’ve got that game readiness and wealth of experience coming back to the squad, and they’ll be buoyed by the performance against Georgia. They’re definitely a team with a point to continue to prove.”