Robin McBryde has revealed that British and Irish Lions chairman Jason Leonard was left close to tears after Alun Wyn Jones said his goodbyes to the squad.
Jones was ruled out of the tour to South Africa after dislocating his shoulder in the game against Japan, with Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray taking over from the Welshman as Lions captain.
Lions forwards coach McBryde was speaking to WalesOnline about the Welsh veteran’s farewell message to the squad and revealed that it was a “heartfelt” affair.
Alun Wyn Jones.
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) June 26, 2021
‘Jason Leonard was close to shedding a tear.’
“He spoke very eloquently and very well at the cap presentation. He wished everybody the best and just got on with the job,” McBryde said.
“It was tough for all concerned really. I know Jason Leonard was close to shedding a tear, if you want to use him as some sort of barometer. When Alun Wyn speaks, it’s always from the heart.
“It was very heartfelt. There was no working around it how disappointed he was obviously. It’s a big thing. But he kept his emotions in check. He was able to get his words out and just do the job in hand.
“It sums him up really with regard to putting the team first and it’s not about me, it’s about the team, it’s about us and just go out there and give a good account of ourselves really.”
Alun Wyn Jones’ time with the Lions.
Jones was set to tour South Africa for a second time with the Lions, this time around as captain, after he first faced the Springboks with the best of Britain and Ireland back in 2009.
The Welshman played in all of the Lions’ last nine test matches against South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand over a span of eight years, and would likely have played in all three games against the Springboks this year if he remained fit.
Alas, that won’t be the case after his injury against Japan, which will almost certainly be the last time Jones ever plays for the Lions.
While it is extremely unlikely that Jones will be in contention for the Lions’ next tour to Australia in 2025, the 35-year-old has no intention of hanging up his boots just yet and will continue to captain Wales for the foreseeable future.