Alun Wyn Jones is preparing for his 17th Six Nations and even at the age of 37, the Wales great shows no signs of slowing down on the field as he launches new drinks business off it ahead of crunch Ireland clash
- The 2023 Championship will be Alun Wyn Jones’ 17th Six Nations
- He is now 37-year-old and the most capped player in international rugby
- Wales begin their campaign against Ireland on Saturday afternoon
The 2023 Championship will be Alun Wyn Jones’ 17th Six Nations.
It is such a remarkable statistic that it is worth reading twice. Seventeen. Even at 37, Jones – the world’s most capped player – shows no signs of slowing down.
‘It’s you lot (the media) who think I’m going to play forever,’ Jones told Sportsmail, in typically spiky fashion. ‘I don’t think I am.’
The thing is, though, that it does feel like Jones has been playing forever. On Saturday, he will win his 156th Welsh cap against Ireland at Principality Stadium.
Jones continues to rage against the dying of the light. His performances and experience still continue to demand selection. He goes into the start of this year’s Six Nations with 155 Wales caps and 12 Lions appearances to his name. His world cap record will more than likely never be beaten.
The 2023 Championship will be Alun Wyn Jones’ 17th Six Nations with Wales
Jones is part of a hugely experienced Wales side named by Warren Gatland for his first game back as head coach. Wales’ starting team for Ireland contains a mammoth 952 caps.
Jones has prepared for yet another Six Nations by combining the old and the new. His relentless dedication and steely-eyed stare remain as strong as ever.
ALUN WYN JONES STAT PANEL
Position: Second row
Wales caps: 155
Lions caps: 12
Total Test caps: 167
Six Nations appearances: 64
Wales debut: 11/06/2006 vs Argentina (Puerto Madryn)
Test tries: 9
International honours: 3 Six Nations grand slams (2008, 2012, 2019), 2 Six Nations titles (2013, 2021), 1 British & Irish Lions series win (2013), 1 British & Irish Lions series draw (2017)
But last week, with an eye on the future and with the end of his career looming into view, the second row took a step into the unknown by launching a new business venture.
Jones’ off-the-field move into the drinks industry has seen him create a coffee-infused rum named Mimosa. The brand celebrates the pioneering spirit of the Welsh people who embarked on a life-changing voyage to Patagonia in Argentina in the 19th century.
That voyage began in 1865 when a ship named the Mimosa set sail from Liverpool with 153 passengers on board who dreamed of establishing Welsh-speaking communities in Patagonia.
Jones – a passionate Welshman – made his Wales debut against Argentina in 2006 in Patagonia.
‘I’ve played some of my best rugby when I’ve had my focus on other things whether it was my law degree back in the day or the times in life when family can become all encompassing,’ Jones said.
‘This is something I’ve been very passionate about. The transferable skills and eye for detail you have as a sportsman are transferable to other lines of work.
‘I am always cautious talking about transition and you guys (the media) have been asking me for years what I am going to do (in retirement).
‘The honest answer is I don’t know but I think this is a good bridge for me to learn all those grown up things you don’t necessarily need to think about when you are doing line-out calls or defence.
‘It’s been a good learning process for me to dip my toes in the other side and hopefully it will put me in good stead going forward.
‘There is obviously one eye on the future knowing I’ll have to get another job one day. Who knows, maybe I’ll become a journalist? I’ve got a social media account, so it can’t be that hard!’
This is, in all likelihood, Jones’ last year as an international rugby player. An injury to Will Rowlands has robbed Wales and Gatland of their best lock for the Six Nations.
Gatland, back for a second spell in charge of Wales, knows he has to bring through the next generation in the pack. But for now, Jones’ experience remains vital.
The Ireland game will be his 65th in the Six Nations. Only Italy’s Sergio Parisse and former Ireland centre Brian O’Driscoll have played more.
Jones had a fine game against Australia last autumn in what was Wayne Pivac’s last as head coach and has been playing well for an Ospreys side which has shocked the champions of England and France in Europe. Last autumn, South African World Cup winner Tendai Mtawarira voiced his belief Jones should retire after Wales were blown away by the All Blacks.
‘A good dancer knows when to leave the dance floor,’ Mtawarira said. ‘I am sure there is a young Welsh lock waiting for his turn in that jersey.’
Jones said: ‘I’m not proving anyone wrong. With Warren coming back, the biggest thing is it’s familiar for a lot of us. The thing that has resonated is the sheer short amount of time we have.
‘We’ve had to cram a lot in and with three away games, there’s not a lot of time. We haven’t had the time to reminisce. It’s been straight to work. I know the guys in the squad are all chomping at the bit.
‘I’m obviously focused on this week. If I can support Ken (Owens) and the rest of the squad to get the programme back to where we all think it should be, then that’s my role.
‘I’ll focus on that and whatever is after this campaign, is after this campaign.’
Hooker Owens is Wales captain for this Six Nations, with Jones – so often a skipper for both his country and the Lions – back among his lieutenants.
Gatland is banking on his old guard to still be able to deliver the goods against Ireland, who are firm favourites for the Cardiff clash given their status as the world’s No 1 team.
Jones has launched his very own coffee infused rum, Mimosa Rwm Espiritu
A victory would be a rare positive for Welsh rugby after it was rocked by allegations of sexism and misogyny on the eve of the Six Nations.
‘It’s about experience at the moment,’ Gatland said. ‘I sat down with Alun Wyn and had a good discussion about where he is. I said we need to bring some of the other second rows on as well and give them some game time going forward. He is well aware of that.
‘He has been fantastic in the past week or so in terms of his voice and experience and I want those younger second rows to learn from that experience.
‘I said to him he has been around for last 15 years and he corrected me and said it had been 17! I have always been a great admirer of his, but we’ve got to go through the process of some transition.
‘I would love him to be able to make the decision when he calls time. He is well aware of the needs of this team at the moment. We keep talking about how many games he plays, who starts, and when he decides to make a decision to finish with international rugby.’
Whenever he decides to quit, Jones will surely be recognised as one of, if not the best, Welsh player of all time. Sir Gareth Edwards is the only one who can beat him to that crown.
There is no doubt the end is in sight for Jones. But it has not arrived just yet. There is plenty of rugby for him still to play this year before he can relax with a Mimosa and it continues this weekend.
Alun Wyn Jones embarks on a new venture away from the rugby field as he launches his very own coffee infused rum, Mimosa Rwm Espiritu.
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