Welsh rugby still has deep-rooted issues that need to be sorted – Alun Wyn Jones

By Sports Desk November 01, 2023

Alun Wyn Jones hopes Wales making the last eight of the Rugby World Cup in France “does not paper over the cracks” in the game nationwide.

Jones – world rugby’s most capped player – will captain the Barbarians against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday with the curtain about to come down on his distinguished career.

The 38-year-old was named in Warren Gatland’s preliminary World Cup squad before announcing his international retirement in May after 170 Test matches – 158 for Wales and 12 for the British and Irish Lions.

Wales went on to reach the quarter-finals in France in what was considered relative success after a tumultuous 12 months.

Gatland returned as head coach following Wayne Pivac’s departure in December, but Wales won only once in the Six Nations as the threat of a player-strike was averted at the last minute.

The Welsh Rugby Union was also embroiled in a sexism and misogyny scandal off the field.

Jones said: “I am just pleased for the players for the success they had on the backdrop of a tough year for Welsh rugby.

“I just hope it does not paper over the cracks because there are deeper-rooted issues that need to be sorted.

“I hope we don’t end up in the cycle where we keep doing well every four years but we have another drought in between. Hopefully it kicks on the right way with a young group of players I believe can achieve lots.”

Jones has two more weeks left of a short-term Toulon deal he signed after his 17-year stay at the Ospreys ended in June.

He says then that “will be me done”, but Jones hinted he may remain within the sport in some capacity.

“I care about Welsh sport and I care about rugby, and I want to make sure it is in the best possible place it can be,” Jones said.

“You have got to get a few more miles on the clock in certain areas to have that influence (to determine matters).

“It depends what was needed. There are a lot of stuff like financial things and we have just got to make sure we keep player welfare and players at the forefront – that is the main thing for me.”

Jones hopes the tradition of Barbarians rugby, as well as the Lions which has seen tours to the southern hemisphere shortened in the professional age, survives as the game moves forward.

He said: “We’re very blessed as a sport that we’ve got the Barbarians, the Lions, and some classic traditions.

“I think the Barbarians has actually helped some teams because when some of the Premiership sides went, the Barbarians stepped in to sustain them.

“With regards to the Lions it’s similar to the Barbarians. I think it’s something the game needs. There are not many other sports that do it.

“We don’t have a 15s Olympic team. I think you still need something within the sport like that. It gives a focal point for the sport for players and supporters to follow.”

Barbarians team:I Droasese (Fiji), S Stevenson (New Zealand), L Ikitau (Australia), I Perese (Australia), S Ravutaumada (Fiji), N Sanchez (Argentina), S Kuruvoli (Fiji); J Moody (New Zealand), T Ikanivere (Fiji), T Tupou (Australia), R Leota (Australia), AW Jones (capt, Wales), J Tipuric (Wales), M Hooper (Australia), R Valetini (Australia).

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