Today, Rugby Canada’s General Manager of Rugby Operations and Performance Jim Dixon announced that Kingsley Jones has been appointed Head Coach of Canada’s Men’s Fifteens Program, commencing in October.
The 48-year-old Welshman, who boasts an extensive playing and coaching background in international and professional rugby, takes over following the recent June International Summer Series.
“I am pleased to confirm that after an extensive search, interview and screening process we have appointed our new NSM Fifteens Head Coach, Kingsley Jones. Kingsley brings a wealth of experience having coached in the English Premiership and European Championship, Pro12 and internationally with Russia during the 2011 and 2015 cycles. He leaves a senior high-performance role with the Wales Rugby Union to join Rugby Canada; I am delighted to have him onboard,” said Dixon.
Canada failed to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in the Americas 1 position earlier this summer, losing an aggregate two-game series to USA. Canada will now look to book their spot in the third largest sporting event in the world – which yesterday celebrated its two-year countdown to kick off – against Uruguay in a home-and-away series in early 2018.
“The Men’s Fifteens team has an important four months ahead of them and Kingsley and the rest of the coaching team’s focus is 100% on achieving RWC qualification. I know Kingsley is very much looking forward to getting out and meeting the community once this critical objective is achieved.
“I’d like to thank all the interview panel members for their valuable input to this process, and also the program players and staff for their patience and hard work during this period of change. I’m excited for the program and Rugby Canada to have such an experienced and well-respected person in Kingsley joining our team.”
Kingsley won 10 caps for Wales as a flanker between 1996-1998 and also played professionally for Worcester Warriors, Glasgow, Gloucester, Pontypridd and the highly esteemed Barbarians.
Following his retirement in 1998, Jones began coaching professionally full-time. Over the last 14 years, he has amassed international test match experience as Head Coach of Russia, along with the Pro12 and eight years in the English Premiership, attaining silverware in both Premiership and European tournaments.
“I am delighted to accept this role with Rugby Canada and I’m excited to meet the players and staff and begin preparation for an important period for the team. My family and I are very much looking forward to moving to Canada and immersing ourselves in the culture and all the country has to offer,” said Jones.
“Every coach wants to work at the highest level and compete on the world stage, I’m grateful for the opportunity and very much looking forward to working with this group of talented and committed players,” added Jones.
“Our immediate priority is attaining qualification for RWC2019, this is critical. Once again, thank you to Allen and Jim for this opportunity and I look forward to meeting the Canadian rugby community.”
Canada’s Men’s Team is set to face the New Zealand Maori All Blacks in Vancouver on November 3 in a highly-anticipated contest. Less than a thousand tickets currently remain for the lower bowl at BC Place.
Canada will then fly to Europe for their annual November tour, where they’ll face Georgia, Spain and Fiji (details TBD). Along with World Rugby ranking points, these test matches are crucial for helping Canada prepare for a busy 2018, which includes the qualifying series against 18th ranked Uruguay.
The winner of that qualifying series books their spot in Pool D, as the Americas 2 entrant in Japan in 2019 and will face Australia, Wales, Georgia, Fiji while the loser will have one last chance to qualify in the repechage in 2018 to join New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Africa 1 in Pool B.
“We are grateful to Kingsley for the contribution he has made to Welsh rugby, particularly at the Dragons in challenging circumstances. The opportunities to coach at International level are few and far between and on that basis we very much support the opportunity for Kingsley to coach the Canadian National team,” said Martyn Philipps, CEO of the Welsh Rugby Union.
“He will undoubtedly grow from the experience and bring a wealth of knowledge to Canadian rugby. We are keen for Welsh coaches to better themselves and wish Kingsley and his family well.”
A Canada “A” side, coached by Mike Shelley, will also travel to Uruguay next month to compete in the Americas Pacific Challenge, a key developmental tournament for Canada’s up and coming Men’s Fifteens players.