The Lions win over Japan on Saturday came at a cost, as tour captain Alun Wyn Jones bowed out of the 2021 tour after just seven minutes. A dislocated shoulder has ruled the Welshman out of the rest of the tour, but he has still had a part to play in the days since.
Jones has not travelled with the Lions to South Africa, and bade farewell to the squad on Sunday before heading home to Wales.
Alun Wyn Jones' emotional Lions farewell
Forwards coach Robin McBryde has now revealed that Jones had one final role to play for his teammates before parting ways. The Ospreys second row was tasked with handing out the caps to the newbies in the touring squad and gave "rallying call" to the team before saying goodbye. McBryde said some were close to tears.
He spoke very eloquently and very well at the cap presentation. He wished everybody the best and just got on with the job. It was tough for all concerned really. I know Jason Leonard was close to shedding a tear, if you want to use him as some sort of barometer.
When Alun Wyn speaks, it’s always from the heart. It was very heartfelt. There was no working around it how disappointed he was obviously. It’s a big thing. It sums him up really with regard to putting the team first and it’s not about me, it’s about the team, it’s about us and just go out there and give a good account of ourselves really.
But he kept his emotions in check. He was able to get his words out and just do the job in hand.
Jones then handed over the captaincy to his replacement, Munster and Ireland's Conor Murray, and parted ways with the touring squad.
Meet our new #LionsRugby 2021 Captain - Conor Murray 🦁
Not the way he would have wanted to become Captain but congratulations to the three time Lions Tourist 💪
A proven talent and an excellent leader 🙌 pic.twitter.com/mxtyHOjUj9
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) June 26, 2021
Murray's appointment as captain came as a bit of a surprise - not least to the man himself. If Robin McBryde's slightly sensational comments about Jones' farewell speech are to be believed, it was already an emotional night for the Lions squad, and fellow squad member Jamie George has said that Murray was taken aback by the news of the captaincy on top of that.
I know he was taken aback when he was first asked. I was one of the first people he told after Warren Gatland asked him and there was a bit of a shocked look on his face.
But at the same time you could see the sense of excitement and I'm hugely excited for him.
George - who toured New Zealand with Murray and the Lions in 2017 - went on to say that he had no doubts about his credentials, and said that he had full faith he would be a fantastic captain.
I got really close to him on the 2017 tour. Character-wise I can't speak highly enough of him. He's an unbelievably popular member of the group, someone that always has an arm around you, checking in on you. That's a great sign of a good leader.
He deserves it. I'm really happy for him and I think he's going to do an amazing job.
As excited as Irish fans are about Murray's new found role, it has come about in very unfortunate circumstances, and it can't be denied that Jones was a hugely popular choice for captain. He was a member of the squad for the 2009, 2013, and 2017 series, making him one of only three players to play on four Lions tours.
Alun Wyn Jones will be sorely missed on this year's Lions tour, but if his final rallying call has done the trick, we could well be celebrating come August 7. The Lions play this Saturday against the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg, with the first test against the Springboks taking place in Cape Town on July 24.