By Paul Jones
Alun Wyn Jones, the world’s most capped rugby union player, has announced his retirement from the international game – along with his Ospreys teammate, Justin Tipuric.
The 37-year-old lock Jones played 158 times for Wales and made 12 British and Irish Lions Test appearances.
Wales flanker Tipuric, who won 93 caps, had earlier announced he would be stepping down from Test rugby.
The timing of their announcements is a major surprise and setback at the end of a miserable season for Welsh rugby.
It will add to the turmoil within the national squad following the recent retirement of Josh Navidi through injury and a Six Nations campaign that ended win just a single victory over Italy.
It also comes less than four months before Wales’ World Cup opener against Fiji in Bordeaux, and both had recently been named in a 54-player preliminary training squad for the tournament by head coach Warren Gatland.
Writing on his Instagram page, Jones said: “Having been selected in this year’s preliminary Rugby World Cup squad, and after ongoing dialogue with the coaching staff and WRU (Welsh Rugby Union), I have decided to step away from the international game.
“So, after 17 years, I look back on special memories with Welsh greats and future Welsh greats.”
Former Wales and Lions captain Jones continued: “The opportunity to be professional in the sport I love was a dream come true, and to represent my home region the Ospreys and clubs within the region, namely Mumbles and particularly Bonymaen, who guided my formative years, was beyond special and something for which I am hugely grateful.
“A huge thank you to the staff and players who have been part of my journey. I wish you well for the future.
“To the supporters, thank you for the support and making the most special occasions even more memorable.
“To the people closest to me, my family, I couldn’t have done it without you.”
Jones, who made his Test debut in 2006, is regarded as one of Wales’ greatest-ever players.
Time and time again, he produced inspired displays for his country, with a stellar career harvesting multiple Six Nations titles, Grand Slam successes and World Cup appearances.
He also went on four Lions tours – in 2009, 2013, 2017 and 2021 – and skippered them in South Africa two years ago.
In a statement released by his agents WIN Sports Management, meanwhile, Tipuric said: “During the off-season I’ve had time to reflect on my playing career, and now seems the right time to step away from international rugby.
“It has been a privilege to put on the Welsh jersey and have so many great memories.
“I would like to thank all the players and coaches I’ve been fortunate enough to work with over the years, and the wonderful support I’ve received from the Welsh public.
“I am looking forward to spending more time at home and putting all my energies into playing for my home region the Ospreys.”
Tipuric’s decision comes just a month after his fellow Wales back-row forward Josh Navidi called time on his career, being forced into retirement because of a serious neck problem.
Tipuric, 33, was an integral figure in Wales teams for more than a decade, helping his country win four Six Nations titles, including two Grand Slams.
He was awarded his Wales debut by Gatland against Argentina 12 years ago and played in the 2015 and 2019 World Cups.
Tipuric also made one Test match appearance for the Lions on their 2013 tour to Australia.