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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
Birth nameMichael Niko Jones
Date of birth (1965-04-08) 8 April 1965 (age 54)
Place of birthAuckland, New Zealand
Height1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Weight98 kg (216 lb)
SchoolHenderson High School
UniversityUniversity of Auckland
Notable relative(s)KJ Apa (nephew)
Occupation(s)Rugby union footballer & coach
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

Early yearsEdit

Jones was born in Auckland, New Zealand, and grew up in Te Atatu 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 many of the older children 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: is better to give than receive.[9][10]

Jones was a member of the successful Auckland and Auckland Blues teams which dominated New Zealand rugby in the late 1980s and 1990s.[11] 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),[12] while the Blues won the first two Super 12 competitions in 1996[13] and 1997.[14] 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[15] and retired at the end of the 1999 season.[16]

Coaching careerEdit

On 7 April 2004 Jones was appointed national coach of Samoa, replacing New Zealander John Boe.[17] He had previously served as Boe's assistant coach during the 2003 World Cup.[18] 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.


Jones has been a role model, particularly for Pacific Islander youth in New Zealand, and in 1990 he received a New Zealand Medal for service to the Pacific Island community.[19] He graduated from the University of Auckland with three degrees: B.A., M.A. and BPlan.[19] In 2003 he was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame.[20] He has been given the matai title (Samoan chiefly title) of La'auli and Savae from his aiga (extended family) .[21]


  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/ Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  4. ^ "N. Zealand v Italy World Cup 1987". ESPN/ 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". 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. ^ "It's better to give". Pasifika/ 2008. Retrieved 15 September 2009.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Mick Cleary (21 September 2007). "1997 interview". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  11. ^ Peter White (2008). "Auckland Blues history". The Blues. Archived from the original on 22 May 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  12. ^ "Ranfurly Shield history". Archived from the original on 27 February 2009. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  13. ^ "1996 Super 12". Retrieved 15 September 2009.[dead link]
  14. ^ "1997 Super 12". Retrieved 15 September 2009.[dead link]
  15. ^ "Australia v N. Zealand 1998". ESPN/ Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  16. ^ Chris Malais (October 2008). "Michael Jones profile on". ESPN/ Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  17. ^ "Jones appointed new Samoa coach". ABC news. 7 April 2004. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  18. ^ "Samoa v Uruguay, 2003 Rugby World Cup". BBC sport. 15 October 2003. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  19. ^ a b "Auckland University alumni". Auckland University. cvxccc. Archived from the original on 19 May 2009. Retrieved 15 September 2009. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  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. ^ Valevale, Tama (13 July 2009). "Famous Samoans (Chapter 2)". Retrieved 13 March 2010.[permanent dead link]

External linksEdit