The 19th Welsh giant makes his professional debut in rugby’s craziest league after being identified as ‘the next big thing’

It was the much-loved youngster who made the bold call to leave Wales as a teenager and travel to France to play in rugby’s craziest league.

But the move seems to be working for Lewys Jones.

Quietly this week, the 6-foot narrow, 19th Welshman bowed out in French rugby’s second tier, ProD2, appearing on the bench towards the end as his club Nevers claimed a 27-6 victory on the leaders Mont-de-Marsan.

It was a resounding success for the central France side and a remarkable evening for former Ysgol Gyfun student Ystalyfera Jones, stepson of former Wales striker and Neath Phil Pugh and a product of the Osprey academy that had been ‘marked as the next big thing’ before making his decision to move to foreign climates.

Speaking to WalesOnline the morning after the match, he said: “It’s a great stage.

“I had set myself the goal of making my debut at some point this season and maybe trying to move forward and secure a place in the campaigns to come.

“So it’s good to have ticked at least one box.

“We had Covid at the club, so I was pushed into the senior squad for the game with Mont-de-Marsan.

“It meant a lot to the boys to get the win.

“Mont-de-Marsan is doing well and the victory shows that we are also making progress. “

ProD2 is the gateway to the Top 14 in France.

It’s a league that’s home to next-generation players – Demba Bamba, Anthony Bouthier, Thomas Ramos and Kilian Geracie have all been there – as well as well-known names who are playing their careers.

Obviously, there are dramas, whether in the form of shock results, brilliant tries, expulsions or late twists. France international Damien Chouly said in Rugby World last year: “It’s like Game of Thrones. With every episode, something happens.

Jones agrees. “It’s an interesting league,” he said with a laugh.

“There are famous clubs and there are usually one or two surprises in each round of matches.

“The level is good too. The Top 14 is faster, but Pro Deux is physical with big players and the quality of some games is really good.

Jones played for Wales in the U20 Six Nations last summer and has ambitions to win more honors.

“It’s always a privilege to play representative rugby,” he said.

“There are a lot of good heads tight and I know my situation is complicated by the fact that I am based in France.

“But I’m doing my best on the pitch and I feel like I’m learning all the time.

Lewys Jones made his ProD2 debut this week

“When I played for Wales in the U20 Six Nations it was a huge honor. We were a young team but there were some great players in the setup with the potential to go far in the match.

“Coming to France developed me as a player and as a person. It takes a while for the props to mature, but I hope the experience I gain helps me. “

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