Popular career Scarlet Stephen Jones has confirmed that he will leave the region at the end of this season moving to England to give him a fresh new challenge after 15 years commitment to rugby in West Wales.
The experienced 34 year-old outside half and star of Wales and the British and Irish Lions has appeared in Scarlets colours an impressive 313 times and is the region’s highest ever point scorer with 2850 points to date.
His rugby career spans some of the most notable triumphs for the Scarlets in recent decades and has seen the biggest changes in the regional game. He says it’s now time to move to something new having passed on his experience to a strong core of rising players within the Scarlets set-up.
Recognised and respected as one of the flag-bearers for West Wales rugby throughout the Scarlets’ communities and a role model to young supporters as well as a mentor to many of the emerging Scarlets over the past three years, Jones says his heart will remain in West Wales and leaves with very fond and positive memories.
Announcing his decision to move to London Wasps in 2012/13 season, Jones says that having spent time in France for two years, it was also important and key for him to play in England during his career.
Stephen Jones said: “I feel this is the right time to move on at this stage in my rugby career – the Scarlets are showing such promise and have plenty to build on for the future with a very talented group of emerging players who are only going to go from strength to strength now.
“I feel very privileged to have been part of this great club for so many years and particularly the new era – with a team that now has so many exciting new players coming through and achieving international honours. I hope I’ve been able to pass on some of my experience for the benefit of our future as a region and helped accelerate the transition of this squad in recent years.
“It’s been a huge part of my life being a Scarlet – starting when I was 18 and now leaving when I’m 34 and apart from a couple of years in France its where I’ve grown up as a rugby player. I’ve been delighted to be part of Scarlets Rugby throughout and it has been an honour to pull on the shirt every single time.”
Jones says he leaves at a time when there is great promise being shown by a new generation of Scarlets.
He added: “There is a great team spirit, work ethic and energy in the team and it will only get stronger – it’s now the time for these up and coming players to take West Wales rugby forward. I think the Scarlets should be recognised and applauded for their determination to invest and develop Welsh talent from within the region for many years and that’s been proven to be successful.
“It’s going to be difficult to leave but I know this is the right time. It has been an ambition of mine to play in England at some point in my career and I look forward to a new and exciting challenge ahead by joining Wasps.
“I’d like to express my sincere thanks to the players, coaches and supporters at the Scarlets throughout my career for all their support.”
Head Coach Nigel Davies said Jones has won huge respect, regard and admiration across the whole of the rugby community in West Wales as well as international plaudits.
Davies said: “We appreciate and support Stephen’s reasons for moving at this time in his life and stage in his career and wish him all the very best with his move to Wasps. He leaves with our sincere thanks, gratitude as a region and respect for all he has done and achieved in a Scarlets shirt. He has been a huge part of our modern history as club and an integral part of this team for some time.
“As one of the most experienced Scarlets of all time, he has given a lot both on and off the field and has been a big influence on this squad over the past three years.
“He has imparted key experience, knowledge and influence on this team and as one of our most senior players has set an example and helped nurture many of our most talented players today.”