After months of rumour and speculation, their talismanic lock Alun Wyn Jones has put pen to paper on a new deal at the Welsh region and you only have to look at the social media reaction to understand the significance of the moment.
News of his re-signing was met with near universal acclaim as fans and journalists alike praised the world’s most capped international second row for his legendary status in the game and the loyalty and dedication to his club he possesses.
Jones, who had been linked with a number of lucrative moves, has been a stalwart at Ospreys since making his debut in 2005 with 238 appearances to his name and it is almost impossible to imagine the Welsh side without him.
Fantastic news coming out of the @ospreys camp today
Inspirational #leader #lion and sometimes #baller (check that no look pass 😉) @AlunWynJones has signed up until 2021#2MoreYears in the #GuinnessPRO14 https://t.co/h00w9qX3pB pic.twitter.com/8JFd8wcW1G
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) July 9, 2019
Having spent his entire club career at Ospreys, and been born in Swansea, Jones’ legacy is unprecedented and the fact he is set to continue that comes at just the right time for the club.
Allen Clarke’s first season in permanent charge was a success, putting Ospreys back in the European Champions Cup with play-off victory over Scarlets, having finished fourth in Conference A.
After a difficult 2017/18 campaign, Ospreys were particularly impressive in the scrum and on lineouts as five consecutive wins at the end of the season secured a place back among Europe’s elite.
But Ospreys now stand at a crossroads. With Sam Davies, Scott Baldwin, Tom Habberfield and Rob McCusker all having left the club, the young core at their disposal such as Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler and Dewi Lake must now step up to take the club to the next level.
Such talent needs continual nurturing and Jones’ decision to stay means that the Ospreys will still have just the leader with which to guide those less experienced.
Jones’ sheer power and skill at lock should not be underestimated either. It may be a cliché but the Welshman provides Ospreys with their ‘engine room’ and they will surely need him to fire on all cylinders in their tough European group containing Saracens, Racing 92 and Munster.
The people have spoken 🗣
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) July 11, 2019
On a personal level, the move also bears huge significance. Wales are set to have to deal with a tricky transitional period once long-time coach Warren Gatland leaves after the World Cup and continuity may be just the ticket for Jones in order that he can help shape the next era of Wales rugby.
In addition, Jones surely has one eye on the next British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa in 2021 with his new deal set to run until that very series.
That could be the perfect way for the 33-year-old, a three-time tourist with the Lions in 2009, 2013 and 2017, to bow out of the game.
Whatever his motivations, Ospreys are boosted no end by the decision and their development as a side will no doubt continue with Jones heavily involved.