Name: Ryan Jones
Position: No. 8, Flanker, Lock
Clubs: Ospreys, Bristol
National: Wales (75 Caps)
You’ve recently hung up your boots – How have you been spending your time and how are you finding the adjustment to ‘everyday’ life?
If I’m honest, I found the adjustment pretty difficult. Leaving the game left a big void in my life as Rugby dictated how I lived my life for such a long period of time, whether it was what I ate, drank, how active my social life was or simply what time I got up in the mornings.
However, I am enjoying taking a step back and watching the brilliant rugby that we have witnessed over the last few weeks – of course I’d rather be playing – but I’ve enjoyed doing some work in the media as it’s a great way to stay in touch with the game.
I’ve also been doing a little bit of work for a law firm in Cardiff which I’ve also enjoyed…I’m keeping my options open for the future just now.
Tough question we know, but what’s been the best moment of your rugby career?
The simple answer is that there are lots of different moments for different reasons.
Of course, the standoff against the All Blacks at the Millennium Stadium was amazing – it added an extra element of entertainment to the match, which was great. After all, rugby stadiums can often feel like theatres when the stakes are high and matches full of drama.
Captaining Wales is something I am incredibly proud of and I’ll never forget the amazing feeling of leading the team out at the Millennium stadium – it still gives me Goosebumps.
Wales had a reasonably successful but injury plagued tournament – how did you think they got on? Positives to take from the tournament?
The reality is the group they were in was the group of death and the matches took so much out of all the teams, they emerged from the pool stages knackered. This was plain to see in both Wales' and Australia’s quarter final performances.
In my opinion the Welsh performances were spirited and courageous. Although they lost in the last eight they can take positives from being involved in a cracking test match and superb weekend of rugby! They knew it would be tough before the kick off due to their unfortunate and lengthy injury list, however they played with great determination and didn't let it play on their mind.
There are certainly positives to take from their performance!
Refereeing decisions have obviously come under a lot of scrutiny and have had a lot of media attention in recent weeks – what are your thoughts on the Joubert situation?
Most of it comes down to who you support – of course if you were a Scottish fan last weekend you may have felt aggrieved but we have to remember referees are only human. They do a fantastic job the vast majority of the time and come part and parcel with the sport.
If I’m honest, I was surprised World Rugby acted as they did regarding the Craig Joubert situation – it wasn’t very mindful and respectful. Unfortunately the situation somewhat detracted attention from what was a fantastic match.
I feel it’s incredibly important that the whole thing is ironed out quickly as the respect shown to match officials in rugby is what separates us from many other sports!
How would you assess the RWC so far? And who do you think will win it?
It’s been a magnificent tournament with some brilliant rugby on show! The ‘tier 2’ nations have seriously stepped up and shown they can compete with some of the world’s best – overall It’s been the spectacle we all expected / hoped for!
In terms of winning it – it’s hard to look past New Zealand – they played with such tempo against France and then produced a brilliant second half display again the Springboks! (Image source: bleacherreport.com)
Australia looked laboured against the Scots, however certainly looked more on the ball against Argentina …it should be a great final!
I also have to say that Argentina have given a fantastic account of themselves!
What was the first rugby club you played for and did your grassroots experience play a major role in inspiring you to become a rugby player?
My first team was my local club, Risca Rugby Club, who are located near Newport. I actually didn’t take up rugby until my late teens and decided to start because all of my mates played.
Growing up I loved all sport, whether it was football, tennis or rugby – my sporting hero was Stefan Edberg – I just wanted to be a sportsman. However, when I started rugby, my first club helped me develop a love for a game that definitely pushed me in my quest to become a pro.
Looking at the RWC and the 4 teams in the semi-finals all being from the Southern Hemisphere, does the UK need to look at its grassroots setup in order to ensure we are producing enough quality players and in fact, have enough people taking up the sport?
First things first, we can’t be too emotional and reactionary after what has been a fantastic world cup, if not slightly disappointing for the home nations. We must take time to debrief and ensure that the rugby product we are manufacturing and selling is right – this will be achieved by making sure every kid has a positive rugby experience!
It will be interesting to see what sort of legacy this world cup will create – here’s hoping it encourages many others to take up our sport.
There is no doubt that the future of any sport is in its grassroots and so we must make sure rugby is supported and developed from the grassroots up.
How Important do you see it that professional’s give back to the amateur rugby community?
I have always seen it as important to try and give back as much as I can to the grassroots game – at the end of the day, the stronger relationship between the professional and amateur game, the better the product that is created!
It’s important that when we get people trying out rugby, they love the experience so much that it stays in their DNA forever. Rugby isn’t just about the next Leigh Halfpenny or Chris Robshaw; it’s about the next guy that’s willing to coach at his local club!
It’s about so much more than simply the 30 guys on the field.
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