Three Wales Rugby Legends Bid Farewell in Uncapped Match Against Barbarians
In a match that has sparked debates about its validity, three Welsh rugby legends will have their final dance at the Principality Stadium this weekend. Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric, and Leigh Halfpenny will bid farewell to their illustrious careers in a stadium where they have created countless memorable moments over the past 17 years.
While Jones and Tipuric will line up for the Barbarians, Halfpenny will proudly don his cherished red jersey one last time. Eddie Jones is also part of the coaching staff for the Barbarians after recently stepping down as Australia’s head coach following a disappointing World Cup campaign. The match holds even more intrigue with former Wallabies captain Michael Hooper being coached by Jones, who controversially left him out of his World Cup squad. Additionally, Scott Robertson, the new All Blacks boss, is involved in the Baa Baas set-up.
However, it is Alun Wyn Jones (“Alun Wyn”), “Tips” (Justin Tipuric), and “Pens” (Leigh Halfpenny) who should take center stage in Cardiff. Their collective achievements are nothing short of extraordinary – boasting an impressive total of 352 caps for Wales and appearing in 17 British & Irish Lions Test matches. Together they have celebrated Grand Slam victories and claimed Six Nations titles while enduring heartbreaks in World Cup semi-finals.
The sheer numbers behind these players’ careers are staggering. At age 38, lock forward Alun Wyn Jones holds the title of the most capped player in world rugby, with a remarkable 170 international appearances – 158 for Wales and 12 for the Lions. His journey began as a flanker back in 2006 against Argentina. Throughout his career, he has been an integral part of three Grand Slam-winning teams and five Six Nations triumphs, while also experiencing two World Cup semi-finals.
For the Lions, Jones played in twelve consecutive Test matches across four series over a span of twelve years. He captained the team during their series decider against Australia in Sydney in 2013 before leading them to a narrow defeat against South Africa eight years later. As Ospreys’ all-time appearance record holder, Jones secured four league titles with the region before departing in the summer of 2023. Although named in Warren Gatland’s preliminary World Cup squad earlier this year, Jones announced his retirement from international rugby last May after signing a short-term deal with Toulon during the global tournament.
In anticipation of his final match at Principality Stadium, Alun Wyn Jones shared: “It is going to be emotional; it’s been a long time coming. I’ve been chasing an egg for a long time, so to have my last game here is truly special… The emotive elements are plain to see.”
Warren Gatland himself acknowledges Alun Wyn Jones as one of Wales’ greatest second-rows ever: “He is incredibly well respected around the world and recognized as the player who holds most international caps… We should celebrate that.”
Leigh Halfpenny (“Pens”), known for donning his trademark blue scrum cap on numerous occasions throughout his career, earned an impressive tally of 93 caps since making his debut for Wales back in 2011. The talented fullback contributed significantly to two Grand Slam wins and four Six Nations victories alongside his fellow teammates.
As you witness the final appearance of these rugby icons, take a moment to savor their greatness. Such talent and leadership are rare, making this occasion truly special.