Huw’s Jonesing for more after First World Cup

Huw’s Jonesing for more after First World Cup

Having scratched his World Cup itch during a manic 2023, Huw Jones is not in any mood to ease up after an impressive 2023/24 season so far.

The Glasgow Warriors man was selected for Scotland’s World Cup squad last September, having missed out on selection for the 2019 tournament in Japan. Huw played in all four games in his maiden World Cup, starting against South Africa and Ireland and coming off the bench against Tonga and Romania. Despite being disappointed with Scotland’s group stage exit, Jones says the experience of playing on the biggest stage is one he will always remember.

“I loved being out there and experiencing the vibe of it. Obviously, we had a lot of travelling fans but I think the whole atmosphere in France at the time was amazing.

“Obviously you’re preparing to play at the top of the game against the best in the world so that’s really cool. The games didn’t go the way we wanted them to go, especially the two big games in our group but again, it was great to be there. Ultimately, we are disappointed with leaving at the group stages, but I’ll look back on it with great memories”.

Jones has been a mainstay in the Scotland side in recent years, as well as being a key figure for Franco Smith’s Glasgow Warriors. In last year’s Six Nations he ran in four tries and secured a place in the official Team of the Championship. The 30-year-old had a hectic 2023, competing on all fronts with club and country, and despite encountering the odd injury he says he relishes being involved in such a highly demanding environment.

“It’s an awfully long time to be away from home but when you spend that amount of time with a group of guys you get to know each other pretty well, so it was really enjoyable. I had a bit of an injury with my foot where I was out for six weeks, stuck in the physio room doing rehab. I did get a week off, so I managed to get away and clear my head from rugby completely, which is always nice because you want to be mentally refreshed when you come back to play. I’ve got no complaints about being a professional rugby player, it’s enjoyable for sure and I’m just happy to be doing it”.

For now, Jones’ attentions are firmly on the Guinness Six Nations and this weekend’s clash with Italy in Rome. He has started all three games so far and starred in the last outing in the Calcutta Cup victory over England, most notably with a superb offload for Duhan van der Merwe’s first try. Scotland sit second in the table, with two wins and a defeat from their three games so far. Despite the Azzuri propping up the table on three points, they impressed in their last outing against France in Lille during a 13-13 draw. Huw was full of praise for Gonzalo Quesada’s side and knows Scotland will have to be on top form to leave Stadio Olympico with maximum points.

Huw Jones trains at Oriam ahead of the Italy match at Stadio Olympico this weekend.

“They’ve got attacking threat, great shape and they have talented players. I think from that perspective they’re a threat with ball in hand but are also managing games well. They are strong tacklers who are good under the ball and at winning turnovers. As a team we’ve previewed them, we know how they play and what their strengths are. We’re going to have to be at our best to beat them over there but it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to”.

Huw is one of a string of Glasgow Warriors players in Gregor Townsend’s current squad. He and fellow Warrior Sione Tuipulotu have formed a formidable partnership in the engine room of the side since Tuipulotu’s debut in 2021, with their double-act nickname ‘Huwipulotu’ now infamous amongst the fanbase. But with Sione ruled out for the rest of the championship, Jones will be partnered in the centre by Cam Redpath, who performed admirably off the bench in the Calcutta Cup two weeks ago, in Rome. With Stafford McDowall and Rory Hutchinson also in the squad, Huw is delighted with the strength in depth not just in the midfield but across the board.

“We’ve got so much depth and that’s one thing which I think has been building with Scottish Rugby, I think we’ve had a good team for a while but building that depth has been so important. If guys have injuries or they’re not available it just makes it more competitive and that’s what you want, you want to drive the standards forward in training and in games, so I think that’s great”.

This campaign has seen several new players come into the fold, with Harry Patterson, Alec Hepburn and Elliot Millar-Mills all earning their first caps in the opening three Six Nations games. Huw credited the squad’s high morale and strong internal bonds as one of the main reasons for Scotland’s recent improvement on the pitch.

“I get along really well with everyone; I could list the whole squad to be fair. It’s nice to hang out with your mates every day. Obviously, you’ll be closer with some boys than others with the amount of time you spend together, or you’ll have a similar sense of humour, but I wouldn’t say there’s any cliques in the squad, it’s just good vibes”.

Huw darts between George Furbank and Tommy Freeman to set up Duhan van der Merwe’s first try against England.

As well as success on the pitch, Huw is enjoying life off it too. As well as signing a new contract with Warriors last week, he and wife Annabelle are soon expecting their first baby. With several other squad members welcoming children recently, Huw admits he has been seeking tips from inside camp as he prepares to enter his exciting journey into fatherhood.

“Life’s good at the minute. It’s been great to be going well with Scotland and it’s an exciting time to be at the Warriors. Then in my personal life we’ve got a baby on the way so that’s obviously a huge life achievement and something we’re massively excited for. There are a few boys who have had babies recently and there are loads with kids, so I’ve been asking for little bits of advice. Obviously, everyone has their own journey but it’s good to have people round to support and offer advice when you need it”.

As he closes in on a half-century of caps for the national side and awaits his family’s newest addition, there is no doubt that Huw Jones will continue to relish the job he feels privileged to do.

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