Michael Jones (rugby union)

Sir Michael Niko Jones KNZM (born 8 April 1965) is a New Zealand former rugby union player and coach. He was named by Rugby World magazine as the third best All Black of the 20th century after Colin Meads and Sean Fitzpatrick.[1] John Hart, who first selected him for Auckland, called him "almost the perfect rugby player".

Sir Michael Jones

Michael Jones September 2017.jpg
Michael Niko Jones

(1965-04-08) 8 April 1965 (age 56)
Auckland, New Zealand
EducationHenderson High School
Alma materUniversity of Auckland
OccupationRugby union footballer and coach
RelativesKJ Apa (nephew)
Rugby career
Height1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Weight98 kg (216 lb)
Rugby union career
Position(s) Flanker
Number eight
All Black No. 882
Provincial / State sides
Years Team Apps (Points)
1985–99 Auckland ()
Super Rugby
Years Team Apps (Points)
1996–99 Blues ()
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
New Zealand
Teams coached
Years Team
2004–07 Samoa

Since 2002, he has been a food bank manager in Avondale, Auckland.

Early yearsEdit

Jones was born in Auckland, New Zealand, and grew up in Te Atatū South, a suburb in the west of Auckland, attending Edmonton Primary, Rangeview Intermediate and Henderson High School. His talent for playing was discovered early, as a 10-year-old tackling 15 to 18 year-olds at the weekend kick-abouts at the primary school. He played for the primary school team when still in standard one, when he was three years younger than the other players and by the time he attended Henderson High School, he was already well known locally. He then helped turn a mediocre high school first XV into a successful rugby team that could compete with Auckland Grammar and Kelston Boys High (the regional heavyweights) for the first time. He played for the local Waitemata Rugby Club and it wasn't long before the Auckland representative team (coached by John Hart) took notice.[2]

Playing careerEdit

Jones played initially as an open side flanker, and made his provincial debut for Auckland aged 20 in the 1985 National Provincial Championship, scoring three tries against South Canterbury. He also played for New Zealand Colts. He made his international debut for Western Samoa, for whom he qualified through his mother, in 1986.[3] After one cap for Samoa, and a British tour with the New Zealand Barbarians in 1987, he first played for New Zealand in the first game of the inaugural World Cup in the same year.[4] He scored the second try of the tournament[5] and played in four games, including the final,[6] as New Zealand went on to win the competition.

Jones's career was blighted by injuries, notably two serious knee injuries (in 1989 and 1997) and a broken jaw in 1993. Due to this he only played 55 international games during a period when New Zealand played almost 90 internationals, even though he was usually first choice whenever fit.[7]

His international career was also affected by his strong Christian beliefs, as he refused to play on Sundays.[7] Although he was selected for the 1987 and 1991 All Black World Cup squads, he missed three Sunday games in the 1991 tournament due to his religious beliefs.[8] Jones was omitted from the 1995 squad as he would have been unavailable for the quarterfinal and semifinal games.[7] He was once asked how a Christian such as himself could be such an uncompromising tackler. In reply he quoted a phrase from the Bible: it's better to give than to receive.[9]

Jones was a member of the successful Auckland and Auckland Blues teams which dominated New Zealand rugby in the late 1980s and 1990s.[10] Between 1985 and 1999 Auckland won 9 NPC titles, 5 Super 6 championships, and defended the Ranfurly Shield a record 61 consecutive times (between 1985 and 1993),[11] while the Blues won the first two Super 12 competitions in 1996 and 1997.[12] In 1997 he succeeded Zinzan Brooke as captain of Auckland and the Blues.

He was an outstanding openside flanker, and scored 13 international tries. Later in his career, and after his injuries had reduced the speed which characterised his early career, he played predominantly as a blindside flanker or number eight. In 1998 he was dropped from the New Zealand team at the age of 33 after a loss over Australia[13] and retired at the end of the 1999 season.[14]

Coaching careerEdit

On 7 April 2004 Jones was appointed national coach of Samoa, replacing New Zealander John Boe.[15] He had previously served as Boe's assistant coach during the 2003 World Cup.[16] In 2007, just after the players flew out to New Zealand to prepare for their tour of South Africa, there was speculation that Jones had resigned as coach. However, after talks with the Manu Samoa Union over whether his role should become full-time until the World Cup, Jones joined the team on tour.

Personal lifeEdit

Jones graduated from the University of Auckland with three degrees: a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and Bachelor of Planning.[17]

Jones and his wife Maliena have three children.[18]

Honours and awardsEdit

A role model, particularly for Pacific Islander youth in New Zealand, Jones was awarded the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal, for service to the Pacific Island community.[17]

In the 1997 New Year Honours, Jones was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to rugby.[19] In 2003, he was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame.[20] He was promoted to Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2017 Queen's Birthday Honours, for services to the Pacific community and youth.[21]

Jones has been given the matai title (Samoan chiefly title) of La'auli and Savae from his ‘aiga (extended family).[22]


  1. ^ "The greatest All Blacks of the century". Rugby World. January 2000.
  2. ^ McConnell, Robin (1994). Iceman – The Michael Jones Story (1st ed.). Auckland – Rugby Press. ISBN 978-0-908630-44-8
  3. ^ "W. Samoa v. Wales 1986". ESPN/scrum.com. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  4. ^ "N. Zealand v Italy World Cup 1987". ESPN/scrum.com. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  5. ^ "Michael Jones remembers his debut". IRB. 23 May 2007. Archived from the original on 21 September 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  6. ^ "1987 Rugby World Cup final". BBC Sport. 20 June 1987. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  7. ^ a b c Lindsay Knight. "Michael Jones's All Blacks profile". allblacks.com. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  8. ^ "Michael Jones at the International Rugby Hall of Fame". International Rugby Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 8 September 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  9. ^ Mick Cleary (21 September 2007). "1997 interview". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  10. ^ Peter White (2008). "Auckland Blues history". The Blues. Archived from the original on 22 May 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  11. ^ "Ranfurly Shield history". scrum.co.nz. Archived from the original on 27 February 2009. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  12. ^ "Super Rugby - Past Winners". Super Rugby. Retrieved 2 October 2021.
  13. ^ "Australia v N. Zealand 1998". ESPN/scrum.com. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  14. ^ Chris Malais (October 2008). "Michael Jones profile on scrum.com". ESPN/scrum.com. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  15. ^ "Jones appointed new Samoa coach". ABC news. 7 April 2004. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  16. ^ "Samoa v Uruguay, 2003 Rugby World Cup". BBC sport. 15 October 2003. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  17. ^ a b "Auckland University alumni". Auckland University. Archived from the original on 19 May 2009. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  18. ^ De Lore, Clare (29 December 2018). "All Black legend Sir Michael Jones opens up about his life, family and new work". New Zealand Listener. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  19. ^ "New Year honours list 1997". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 1996. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  20. ^ "Rugby Hall of Fame – 2003 inductees". International Rugby Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 11 September 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  21. ^ "Queen's Birthday honours list 2017". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 5 June 2017. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  22. ^ "Sir Michael Jones elected to Board at NZR Annual General Meeting". Northland Rugby. Retrieved 3 October 2021.

External linksEdit

Sporting positions
Preceded by Samoa National Rugby Union Coach
Succeeded by