The retirement of Alun Wyn Jones, and the non-selection of Wyn Jones has proved costly for the surname

The Wales squad has featured a player with the surname Jones at every men’s Rugby World Cup since 1987 – until this one.

Warren Gatland is famed for his ability to make the big decisions when it matters most but this historical step is likely to have been by accident rather than design.

Related: Wales Rugby World Cup squad 2023

In May, Alun Wyn Jones announced his retirement from international rugby with immediate effect, after winning 170 caps. He had been named in Wales’ initial expanded 54-player squad to prepare for the tournament.

Jones, who made his Test debut in Argentina in 2006, has been to four World Cups, won five Six Nations titles and three Grand Slams. He made 23 consecutive starts against England.

Scarlets loosehead Wyn Jones, meanwhile, was not considered for the initial training squad. He said at the time that he would use the disappointment to, “go back, work on my own game.”

But the former’s retirement and the latter’s omission means that Warren Gatland has become the first coach to pick a Wales World Cup squad without the famously traditional Welsh name.

A brief history of Wales’ Joneses

Scrum-half Robert Jones had the honour of representing the name among the then-31 player squad in the first World Cup in 1987. 

He was in the squad again in 1991. As was – and it’s possibly a bit of a cheat – prop Hugh Williams-Jones.

Jones the scrum-half made it a hat-trick of World Cup appearances when he went to South Africa in 1995. This time, he was joined by second row Derwyn Jones.

Related: Watch Wales forward Taine Plumtree nail 50:22 kick

Four years later, with the Rugby World Cup held – mostly – on home soil, there was a changing of the guard. Robert had retired from international rugby by this time. Fly-half Stephen Jones and Australian-born back Jason Jones-Hughes carried the nominative flag into the tournament.

Australia 2003 was the start of a bumper run of tournaments for keeping up with the Welsh Joneses. Stephen was again in the squad. As was, for the first time at a World Cup, prop Adam Jones. Backrow Dafydd Jones and wing Mark Jones made it a quartet of players with the stereotypically Welsh surname.

Adam was joined by club and country prop twin Duncan in France in 2007. This Rugby World Cup was also the first for a certain Alun Wyn Jones. The three forward Joneses were joined by number 10 Stephen, at his third World Cup, and wing Mark, at his second.

Alun Wyn, Adam, and Stephen were back in the World Cup fold in New Zealand in 2011. They were joined by Ryan Jones for the first, and only, time at the tournament. 

By 2015, Alun Wyn was the sole Jones representative on the World Cup squad. Four years later, he was joined by prop Wyn Jones in Japan. This time around – no Alun Wyn, no Joneses…

Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.

Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter