Alun Wyn Jones embraces Maro Itoje. Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Losing the Lions would be 'a travesty,' says four-time tourist Jones

The Welshman believes the touring team is a special part of rugby.

BATTERED, EXHAUSTED, AND sipping from a well-earned bottle of beer, Alun Wyn Jones certainly came across as someone who cares deeply about the Lions last night.

His remarkable recovery from a shoulder injury just before the tour of South Africa allowed him to captain the Lions for all three Tests of their series against the Springboks, bringing his tally of Test caps to 12 across four tours.

It’s a stunning achievement, particularly in the professional era, but Jones would have swapped any personal milestones for the Lions getting over the line in Cape Town last night.

The Welshman has given more than most to this touring team and he struggled to articulate what the Lions has meant to him when he spoke to the media last night after their dramatic 19-16 defeat to the Boks.

“Really special,” said Jones before pausing.

“I probably can’t put it into words, so I’m not going to try. You’ll probably get me going, I’ve already had a bit of stick for being overly emotional and you know, I don’t give a fuck if people think I’m over-emotional.

“That’s what it means to me and I apologise for using language but sometimes it’s easier to use the agent of a bit of raw language so I apologise for that.”

This Lions series has failed to capture the imagination of many supporters, with consistent complaints about the style of play and plenty of unhappiness around the acrimonious atmosphere caused by the Lions and Boks whinging about match officials.

alun-wyn-jones-makes-a-tackle Jones makes a tackle in last night's defeat. Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

The next tour will bring the Lions to Australia in 2025 when crowds in the stadiums will be a welcome sight. And though there are major challenges in the modern game, notably around their preparation time, Jones believes the Lions are an integral part of the sport.

“Being involved in 2009, I remember the furore after that – ‘The Lions is this, the Lions is that, should it exist?’ I think the commercialisation has increased with the scope of what is going on globally at the minute,” said Jones.

“But in its most basic concept, it is something that is very special and it ignites the imagination in children and adults and I think it is something that rugby has hung its hat on for a long, long time.

“If that were to go, it would be disappointing for the home nations, but also the SANZAR nations that have been part of it as well. It is a big element of rugby that gives a lot of people across the globe something to look forward to.

“It is up there with all of those international competitions and rugby World Cups. It is very special and the excitement and the jeopardy this tour faced and the opinion it created – whether it would go ahead – shows that before the tour had even started.

“It is very special and if rugby were to lose it, it would be a travesty.”

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