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RugbyU: Wales stalwart Stephen Jones to retire

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(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

Stephen Jones, Wales's most-capped player, is to retire at the end of the British season, it was announced Thursday.

The 35-year-old fly-half will join the coaching staff of current club Wasps when the English Premiership side complete their campaign.

Jones's 104 Wales caps are a national record and only stand-off predecessor Neil Jenkins has scored more than his 917 points for the national side.

In addition to representing Wales, Jones also made six Test appearances for the British and Irish Lions, touring New Zealand in 2005 and South Africa four years later.

His last international was Wales's 2011 World Cup third place play-off defeat by Australia in Auckland, a match the Wallabies won 21-18.

Jones also played professional rugby for clubs in three different countries, starting in Wales with Llanelli Scarlets before joining France's Clermont and then moving to Wasps.

"I feel incredibly lucky to have played for some fantastic sides down through the years," Jones said.

"And I feel the time is right for me now to make the transition into coaching, which is what I have always wanted to do.

"There is an opportunity for me to do that at London Wasps, and I am very excited about the next step of my career."

"I want to say a huge thanks to everyone at the Scarlets, Clermont Auvergne and London Wasps, and I feel grateful to have worn three fantastic professional club shirts in my career."

Jones added: "I also feel honoured to have pulled on the Wales and British and Irish Lions shirts, and I appreciate everyone involved in those sides, as well as the supporters, who have been there and backed me throughout my playing days.

"I am taking with me some incredible memories and experiences," said Jones, regarded as one of the best kicking fly-halves of his generation if not a 'running' No 10 in the classic Welsh tradition of Barry John and Phil Bennett.

Wasps rugby director David 'Dai' Young, whose playing career as a Wales prop overlapped with that of Jones, said his former Test team-mate was ideally suited to his new position.

"I always thought Stephen would make an excellent coach, and everything I have seen of him this season backs that up," Young said.

"It is sad to see him retire, but what we are losing on the field we are gaining off it.

"I have always admired Stephen's tactical nous, and I think he will be an excellent member of our coaching team.

"In the meantime, we have some massive games coming up and Stephen is going to play a big part as a player in the coming months."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130228/rugbyu-wales-stalwart-stephen-jones-retire