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Alun Wyn Jones to captain Toulon in final match of his career

By Josh Raisey
Alun Wyn Jones of Barbarians looks on during Barbarians training at Sophia Gardens on October 31, 2023 in Cardiff, Wales. The Barbarians play Wales on Saturday November 4th in Cardiff (Photo by Ryan Hiscott/Getty Images for Barbarians)

Wales great Alun Wyn Jones is set to captain Toulon on Saturday against ASM Clermont Auvergne in what will be the final match of his record-breaking career.

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Despite being rested last week in a 31-26 win over Racing 92, the Welshman has come back into the starting XV to partner England lock David Ribbans in the second row at the Stade Marcel Michelin, as Toulon seek to leapfrog the team one place above them in the league, in sixth place.

After announcing his international retirement in May, the former Wales, and British & Irish Lions captain spent the first few months of this season with the Top 14 outfit having signed as a medical joker in July to provide cover during the World Cup. Toulon recently confirmed that his deal will not be extended beyond this weekend, and with no new club lined up after his spell on the Cote d’Azur, this will be the last match of his career. Then again, another twist in 170-cap international’s career cannot be ruled out.

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Cheslin Kolbe on his yellow card in the World Cup Final

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Cheslin Kolbe on his yellow card in the World Cup Final

Looking ahead to his final match, Jones said this week: “I never thought I’d be here finishing my career. I’m just really grateful to Toulon, particularly the players and staff for the welcome I’ve had. I’ve only been here four months, and I apologise my French isn’t any better. I appreciate the impact other foreign players have had here. The welcome I’ve had from the fans and the city of Toulon has been very, very special. I’d just like to thank everyone and hopefully we can get the win at the weekend

The 38-year-old has already enjoyed a send-off at the Principality Stadium, captaining the Barbarians against Wales at the beginning of the month. That also served as a last hurrah for BaaBaas teammate Justin Tipuric, who retired at the same time as Jones, and Leigh Halfpenny, who retired from international rugby after that match.

Jones was named player of the match in a try-scoring display against his compatriots, which gave him the opportunity to address the crowd. “Firstly, I want to thank the crowd,” he said to S4C after the match. “The people who’ve been coming here for 18 years and turn out and spend their hard-earned money to come and watch Wales play through the good times and the bad times. Diolch yn fawr.

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“I think the man of the match was a bit of tokenism so I’ll accept it gracefully, but I’ve got to mention all the other players out here today and hopefully we put on a show. I think the Baa-Baas stands for what’s good in rugby. An honourable mention to Leigh Halfpenny, Justin Tipuric and Dan Biggar, who isn’t here today.”

The lock went on to describe what it was like to play against the team he represented 158 times, as well as how he planned to spend his final weeks in Toulon.

He said: “I think it’s probably hard to explain, it’s a bit surreal. I don’t know what was more strange, playing with Michael Hooper or playing against Wales. I’m just hugely grateful. It’s been a long journey, we’ve got our own stories. I’m just hugely thankful to my family, particularly my wife and my kids. They’re not going to stop growing, and neither is Welsh rugby. Hopefully we can carry on and have a new generation.”

“I’m hugely grateful that I was able to go to Toulon. It’s funny how things work out, I probably wouldn’t have been here if I hadn’t done that. Probably a few glasses of red and a lie in the sun. We’ll see how it goes. Diolch yn fawr pawb. Safe journey home.”

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Comments

1 Comment
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Paul 220 days ago

What a Legend.
I rate players on how much I dislike them, because they are playing against us/Boks.
I Really Disliked Him.
I like him VERY MUCH now. An absolute thorn in the flesh of the opposition.
Love the way Rugby gave him a send off. Well deserved.

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