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Snubbed Jarrod Evans still dreaming of playing for Wales

30 Jun 2024 8 minute read
Harlequins’ Jarrod Evans kicks a conversion Photo Steven Paston/PA Wire.

Simon Thomas

For Jarrod Evans, playing for Wales remains the dream. But, these days, it’s more a case of hope rather than expectation after three years in the international wilderness.

The eight-times capped outside-half is still eligible to represent his country despite having moved to Harlequins from Cardiff last summer.

That’s because the WRU 25-cap rule doesn’t apply to him as he didn’t receive a fair and reasonable offer from a Welsh region before heading across the bridge.

But, nevertheless, he remains out in the cold – even with Dan Biggar retired and Gareth Anscombe sidelined since the World Cup.

Having been overlooked once more, he has been left to watch on from his Surrey home as Wales have headed out to Australia with just one specialist fly-half – Sam Costelow – in their tour party.


“If I am being honest, it is frustrating for me,” admits the 27-year-old.

“The reason why you pick up a ball when you are a young lad is you want to play rugby at the highest level for your country. That’s one of the goals.

“I would love to still play for Wales, but, at the end of the day, it’s out of my control. I suppose the coaches have got their plans in place.

“Harlequins have given me the opportunity up here and it’s about controlling the things you can control.

“If the call came from Wales, that would be unbelievable.

“But it’s not my decision. It’s probably not a question for me in terms of the selection because I am not the one picking the team.

“There’s not an awful lot I can say on it because I haven’t been given any contact.

“It’s been pretty much radio silence since I won my last cap against Argentina (in July 2021).

“I haven’t heard anything since the end of that series really.”


So why has Evans found himself surplus to requirements?

There has never been any doubt over his ability with ball in hand, in terms of his defence-splitting running and his creative distribution.

The perception has been it’s his game management and kicking which has counted against him when it comes to international selection.

Put that to him and he delivers a telling response.

“Obviously, the power of making a statement is quite damaging at times.

“Once someone says it, it’s almost like it’s gospel in Wales, isn’t it? That’s what everyone believes once it’s been said.

“I feel like I am kicking well. I have found a routine which suits me.

“My goal-kicking has been pretty good. I was third in the Premiership this season in terms of success rate.

“I can only do what I can do up here. I’m not picking the Wales squad. It’s out of my control.”


It came as something of a surprise – not least to the man himself – when it was revealed in mid-season that Evans was not captured by the WRU 25-cap rule and could still represent his country.

“I wasn’t aware about the credible offer situation,” he admits.

“I was under the impression that I was making myself ineligible, but I wasn’t getting picked anyway, was I?”

So, when the ruling over his case was confirmed by the WRU, did he think he might be in the frame for a recall for the summer tour?

“Probably not, because of the lack of contact,” he replies.

“As a 10, as an organiser, as a leader, you would think you would normally hear off the coaches a while before the squad gets picked, so you can get as best prepared as you can.

“There is always that hope, but it’s hope rather than expectation.”


Being overlooked by Wales was one of a number of factors which contributed to Evans’ decision to join Harlequins on a three-year deal after eight seasons at the Arms Park.

Cardiff Rugby’s Jarrod Evans in action. PA Images

“I will always have an affiliation to Cardiff because that’s the club which gave me the opportunity to come through. I still keep an eye on all their games. A lot of boys who I know are still there and I keep in touch with a lot of the staff,” he says.

“But I don’t think it’s good for anyone to be in the same job for too long regardless of whether you are a professional rugby player or not.

“Leaving meant going out of my comfort zone, but I will be better for it later down the line, having a new experience and having to adapt to something different to what I’ve always known.

“My goal when I was younger was to play for Wales and that’s still the case now, but sometimes it doesn’t always work out like that.

“I am hoping I have got another five to seven years left in the game and I just want to try and get as many experiences as I can.”

Marcus Smith

Then there was the appeal of working alongside and competing with England fly-half Marcus Smith.

“That’s one of the reasons I wanted to come – to train with him and challenge myself against him.

“I felt like we could bounce ideas off each other and we do. We get on really well on and off the field. We are probably similar in terms of the way we see the game.

“He’s an unbelievable talent. One v one in training, he is a real handful, which a lot of defences have found out.

“He is certainly a box of tricks. You see the ability he has when you give him space.

“He plays the game with instinct and you don’t want to take that away from him. I think ‘Quins are the perfect club for him really.

“I feel like they allow him, myself and all the other players to play quite freely. They take the anxiety away.

“It’s brilliant to learn off Marcus. We are constantly feeding back from training to each other about what we think we need to get better game by game. Individually and collectively, hopefully our relationship will bring success to the club.”


With Smith as a rival, Evans has had different duties at ‘Quins to what he was used to at Cardiff, with the bulk of his 18 appearances coming off the bench.

“When you have been somewhere for so long and established, it is a change,” he acknowledges.

“I was kind of used to playing week-in, week-out and it has been a different role for me here.

“It’s also the first time I have ever moved house or moved to a different club, so it took me a while to adjust early on. That’s normal for that bedding-in period.

“But I have really enjoyed it. The club has been awesome. They have been unbelievable on and off the field. I have got on with all the players and the staff have been unreal.

“It helped that I knew Danny Wilson from working with him at Cardiff. He is an unbelievable coach in terms of his detail.”

Gallagher Premiership

So what has Evans made of playing in the Gallagher Premiership compared to the United Rugby Championship?

“In the URC, you come across multiple different styles,” he explains.

“Each week, you are playing against something a bit different, whereas in the Premiership, on the whole, everyone has got an appetite to want to play and entertain. Everyone has a willingness to play a similar brand of attacking rugby.

“In the URC, you talk a lot about managing the game. It’s got that Test match feel, where if you are not getting anywhere after three phases you go to a kick to put pressure back on the opposition in the air.

“Here, your eyes have got to be about because if someone drops off we are going, regardless of the score.

“I am coached to stay in the moment the whole time. It’s about playing the space which the defence gives you.”

Pointing to a further contrast, Evans says: “The travel is a massive one.

“That’s what makes the Gallagher so special, the rivalry, driving down the road to a game, with the fans making their way.

“Every game means something and you are playing in front of big crowds every week.

“We had 76,000 for the Quins-Gloucester game at Twickenham. The atmosphere was unbelievable.”

Harlequins’ Louis Lynagh and Jarrod Evans. Photo Ben Whitley/PA Wire.

Settled in

The Pontypridd-born Evans lives with his fiancee just outside of Guildford, close to Quins’ Surrey Sports Park training facility.

“It’s not quite like the valleys!” he quips.

“It’s a lot different to what we are used to. We enjoy it up here. There are some nice areas in this part of the world. We have settled in well.”

He concludes: “I am enjoying my rugby, I am learning, I am getting better.

“Just being here and seeing the game through a slightly different lens is helping to develop me as a player.

“I am happy day-to-day and enjoying it. That’s all that matters really.”

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