One of the key principles of judo is learning to get up, no matter how hard you fall.
A really good job, so Will Jones knows more than a thing or two about the sport.
Do you remember him ? He is the teak-resistant openside who captained Wales at the Under-20 World Championships in Georgia in 2017, alongside Shane Lewis-Hughes last row against England, with James Botham on the bench.
These two have since won senior caps for Wales, of course, and former European junior judo champion Jones was expected to do the same.
But it didn’t work that way.
The Ospreys chose to release him last year amid cuts and changes. A player who had been tipped for the top suddenly found himself without a job.
This is the fall.
But Jones knows how to get up and he has done the same since.
Armed with a social science degree he had obtained from Swansea University, he headed to Durham University to study for a Masters in Human Physiology.
He is currently working on a doctorate and is also a resident tutor at a boarding school, where he coaches rugby. He also plays for Darlington Mowden Park (DMP) in England’s National League 1.
If the script didn’t perform exactly as expected, life isn’t too bad either.
âI like it,â Jones says.
âThis year, I moved to a boarding house and am working as a resident tutor which involves a bit of rugby training.
âIf I can get my PhD, I will have a decent bank of qualifications behind me and that should help me when I start looking for a job.
âI have some ideas of what I want to do in the long term, but the plan is to finish my PhD and see what options are available to us.
âOn the rugby front, Darlington Mowden Park has been good for me.
âThe boys at the club are awesome and the people who run it are professional and hard working. National League 1 is a decent standard, similar to the Welsh Premiership, and you have to play well to win.
âThere is also an important fun factor, which is important. This is probably why every rugby player plays the game in the first place. You want to win, of course, but you also want to profit from it.
âI don’t want to say too much about the Ospreys, but it got to a point where I was not happy. You play sports to play and I didn’t play, so I didn’t like it. The people were great, but things just weren’t right for me.
âYou don’t want to just watch other people play and hold fishing bags.
“But that’s in the past now.”
Unsurprisingly, Jones wasted little time making his mark at Darlington Mowden Park, winning four Man of the Match awards in his 12 outings to date.
Classic Openside who covers a lot of ground, makes his tackles and is a threat to the breakdown, he always plays with the aggressiveness and the physique which characterize his game since his age.
At the time, a great future for rugby was emerging on the cards.
His former Ospreys teammate Rob McCusker once said of him, âI really see him as having the potential to go far in the game. Not only is he a grafter, he’s also a badass.
âPeople say he’s a bit short, but with his judo background I’ve seen him turn over guys who are twice his size.
âThere’s no shortage of physique and hunger for this side of the game. And he’s a smart guy on and off the pitch.
But no career is a smooth line.
Jones is regrouping now, on and off the pitch.
He still loves his rugby and isn’t a man to waste words, something Darlington Mowden Park rugby manager Garry Law has already noted. âWill doesn’t say much, but when he’s speaking people tend to sit down and take notice,â Law explains.
âHe’s definitely making his speech on the pitch after having already won a few man of the match accolades in the first 12 matches.
âWe are very happy to have him on board.
âHe’s been one of our most consistent performers and is a true No.7 with the ability to pull off multiple turnovers which maybe something we were missing.
âHe constantly pushes training standards and sets an example of someone doing their job to the best of their ability.
âWill obviously played at a higher level of rugby early in his career and I really don’t see why he still can’t go on and carve out a career in professional football if that’s still what he wants. “
Darlington Mowden Park has also acquired a leading player.
Let’s go back to Jones playing for Swansea in one of his first appearances for the club. The senior players of the time may have been surprised by what greeted them as they lined up behind the posts after conceding a soft try, with a youngster in their ranks suddenly berating everyone involved.
“It was a bit of a revelation,” recalls Swansea, then rugby manager Richard Lancaster. “Will made it clear to everyone that what happened was not great.
âHe hadn’t been there for five minutes and it was one of his first games for us, but here he was letting people know he was unhappy.
âIt was good to see and it showed me that he is a leader. In fact, he’s one of the strongest leaders I’ve seen coming to the club.
Jones keeps in touch with his friends back home. âIfan Phillips is a great pal,â he says.
“It was terrible to hear that he had been involved in a motorcycle accident
âHe’s a top person who has been a great player for the Ospreys.
âI know Will Griffiths and Morgan Morris very well too. Me and Morgs played on the same team at Penclawdd when we were eight.
âIt’s nice to see them both doing well.
âI spent four years with the Ospreys, made some great friends there and I want them to be successful. Some of the players I played with had opportunities and grabbed their luck with both hands, which is great to see.
Has Jones completely given up on the idea of ââbeing a professional rugby player? âIf an offer came back to me to play professionally again, I would consider it, as anyone else would,â he says.
âBut I also love what I do.
âI have school, university and rugby with Darlington Mowden Park to keep me busy.
âI appreciate being on the pitch again. It would be great to play in the English league with the club. Maybe it could be in a few seasons, when we develop a little more as a team.
“I’m just grateful that they welcomed me into their facility.”
He continues: âI’m not bitter about what happened last year. I am not that kind of person.
âI was confused about the situation, but I moved on. “
Welsh rugby is teeming with talented openensides.
Quite how Jones is still not in the mix will continue to baffle some. But it is never too late.
Injuries happen, calls are made, chances are materializing.
Until then, Jones will continue to do his job at Darlington Mowden Park, a club delighted to have him.
âEveryone at DMP knows that we currently have a little Welsh gem in our No.7 jersey,â Law says.
This is a claim that few people would dispute.