Alun Wyn Jones: Wales to face Barbarians to celebrate career of world’s most-capped player


Alun Wyn Jones represented the Barbarians against a World XV and Swansea in the summer of 2023
Alun Wyn Jones represented the Barbarians against a World XV and Swansea in the summer of 2023

Wales will face Barbarians in a match to celebrate the career of Alun Wyn Jones on 4 November, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) has announced.

The world’s most-capped player retired from international rugby in May 2023.

Lock Jones, 37, will play for a Barbarians side who will be coached by Australia’s Eddie Jones and New Zealand’s next boss Scott Robertson.

The match at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium takes place a week after the World Cup final.

“The Principality Stadium is one of the best places in the world to play rugby,” said former England coach Jones.

“When you add the passion and fervour of a Welsh crowd and the unique and exciting brand of rugby the Barbarians are famous for, we have a match in prospect that will be the envy of fans around the globe.”

The game will clash with a Welsh league derby in the United Rugby Championship (URC) between Scarlets and Cardiff.

The WRU has not stated whether it will be a capped game as Wales faced the Barbarians after the 2019 World Cup in an uncapped fixture that was Wayne Pivac’s first fixture in charge.

The Baa-Baas were coached by Warren Gatland four years ago in what was supposed to be his farewell after 12 years in charge, but he has since returned after replacing Pivac in December 2022.

‘Final dance’ for Wyn Jones

Jones announced his international retirement before a potential fifth World Cup and has since signed a short-term deal with Toulon as playing cover during the tournament.

His presence at the game on 4 November will depend on him coming through his Toulon stint in the Top 14 unscathed.

Jones won 158 caps for Wales and a further 12 Tests for the British & Irish Lions on four tours between 2009-2021.

He captained Wales 48 times and led the Lions in the third Test in Australia in 2013, as well as in the three Tests in South Africa in 2021.

Nominated for the World Rugby Player of the Year award in 2015 and 2019, Jones was named 2019 Six Nations Player of the Tournament after leading Wales to Grand Slam glory.

He made his Barbarians debut in the game against a World XV at Twickenham in May 2023 after retiring from international rugby and also turned out for the invitational side against his first senior club Swansea.

“Alun Wyn will have been the first name on many team sheets for many years,” said Robertson, who will replace Ian Foster as All Blacks coach following the World Cup in France.

“I’m not only looking forward to meeting him and coaching him, but also watching him in his final dance with a passionate crowd.

“It’s an honour and a privilege to be asked to coach the Barbarians and I can’t think of a better place to do it than in Cardiff, against Wales.”

Fixture clash

Principality Stadium is the home of Welsh rugby
Principality Stadium is the home of Welsh rugby

The Wales v Barbarians fixture, which will kick off at 14:30, will be held on a weekend of URC league fixtures. Scarlets are due to host Cardiff at 17:15 in Llanelli in a Welsh derby on the same day, while Ospreys are planning on playing their ‘home’ match against Sharks in London on Friday, 3 November.

Wales will have the homegrown players from the four regions available to them, but players based in England or France will not be eligible because of World Rugby regulations.

The Principality Stadium traditionally hosts four autumn international matches in November, but that does not happen in a World Cup year.

The WRU says the November game will help the annual turnover and create more money for the game in Wales.

Two home matches were scheduled in August as World Cup warm-ups, the 20-9 win against England last weekend and a meeting with South Africa on 19 August.

The four Welsh professional sides have had their domestic fixtures disrupted with criticism about the fixture being organised for the particular date from regional supporters.

“The fixture will be a chance to see the Wales squad back on home soil after what we all know will be an exciting campaign in France,” said Rhodri Lewis, WRU commercial and legal director.

“It will also be an opportunity to welcome some familiar faces back to Principality Stadium, with Alun Wyn already signed up as the first name on the team sheet for the Baa-Baas and an exciting coaching team of Eddie Jones and Scott Robertson taking charge of the visitors.

“The game will have a celebratory feel to it because of the personnel involved. It will be a chance to say thank you to some of Welsh rugby’s most loyal servants.

“This will be a game to relish.”

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