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Officials deny Jones request for family at rugby milestone

CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — A request by captain Alun Wyn Jones to have his family present when he becomes rugby's most capped test player on Saturday was rejected by the Welsh government because of health protocols.

Jones earns his 149th cap when Wales play Scotland in their Six Nations finale in Llanelli, but there will be no spectators because Wales is in the middle of a two-week lockdown due to a resurgence of the coronavirus.

"The question was asked,” Jones said on Friday about whether his family would be able to attend the match.

“Had it been different, a normal occasion, we would have cracked on and nothing would have been said.

“Permission was asked from the government for an exceptional circumstances. But in the grand scheme, one day in a lifetime is nothing considering we are in a hard lockdown and large parts of Wales were in local lockdowns before that.

"Our families are very understanding, and the difficult part of it is, if this was an away game it would be easy to take in many ways. But the fact it's at home and we can't have fans, we can't have family, it is what it is.

"The ability to just have the game is far and away the overriding pleasing point of it all.”

The 35-year-old Jones equaled New Zealand captain Richie McCaw's 148-cap mark in the friendly loss to France last weekend, but he will stand out on his own after making 140 appearances for Wales and nine for the British and Irish Lions.

Jones was keen to play down his individual achievement, more than 14 years after his debut.

“I have been fortunate to have the opportunity,” he said. "I ultimately don’t feel worthy to be mentioned in the same sentence as some of those people you are alluding to.

“I am just conscious who I do it for, what I do it for, and where I am from, and I will treat Saturday in the same vein.”

Asked about the added attention, Jones said: “I’m slightly uncomfortable with it and I don’t particularly like it. It does feel like a sideshow to be honest.

“I want to get out and play, get the performance we need. I am hugely flattered, but ultimately it is words and the game will move on next week and that’ll be that focus.”

Wales is in desperate need of victory after four consecutive defeats — its worst run since 2016 -- piling the pressure on coach Wayne Pivac.

Scotland has won its last three games, building on Six Nations wins over Italy and France in the spring by defeating Georgia 48-7 at Murrayfield last week.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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