Eassyway – Call for better screening: Retired rugby star Alun Wyn Jones reveals heart condition

RTL Today – Call for better screening: Retired rugby star Alun Wyn Jones reveals heart condition

Retired Wales rugby great Alun Wyn Jones has revealed he was diagnosed with a heart condition towards the end of his career and has called for better screening for players.

The 38-year-old, rugby’s most-capped international, told the Telegraph he was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation while he was at French Top 14 side Toulon.

The ex-Wales and British and Irish Lions forward’s career ended at the French side last month. He played a total of 170 internationals.

Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate.

“It was discovered when I underwent a full medical check, which included an ECG test, when I joined Toulon in July on a short-term contract as cover during the World Cup,” he said.

“The cardiac doctor picked it up straight away. My heartbeat was like a galloping horse with six legs. It was all over the shop.”

Warren Gatland named Jones in his preliminary Wales squad for the 2023 World Cup in France, held in September and October, but he opted to retire from internationals in May.

Jones said it was vital to boost screening.

“There is a lot of talk about welfare in rugby at the minute but does that cover everything?” he said.

“Is it just things that we can afford? Surely the sport has come on to the point where players should be screened more often, especially at a time when the demands in the game are growing.

“I was very lucky how it worked out and will forever be grateful to Toulon for signing me. Had they not offered me a contract, I may never have known about the heart condition.

Jones said he took a “risk” in deciding to play in France.

“It might seem a selfish decision given that I have three young daughters, but I needed to take the opportunity,” he said.

“It was only going to be for four months, and it gave me an opportunity to experience and get perspective on my career and life.”

Jones underwent surgery to correct the condition last month, shortly after finishing his playing career.

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