Seeing Sir Michael Jones in the flesh and having the opportunity to meet him will be something boys at St. John’s College will not forget anytime soon.
The words of wisdom and encouragement he imparted in them at a recent fundraiser, held to raise much-needed funds for the school’s rugby foundation, will stay with the budding rugby players, and the school community for years to come.
A night with Sir Michael Jones, sponsored by Simkin Construction, did much more than raise money but inspired each and everyone to be their best both on and off the field.
St. John’s College Director of Rugby and First XV Head Coach Matt Wyatt thanked Sir Michael for giving up his time to speak, and for his generous input into the lives of their boys.
Year 13 and second five-eighths Jaden Murphy said he was humbled to have the privilege to meet Sir Michael, as he hopes to one day pursue a rugby career.
“It was very inspiring, particularly to hear how he came from humble beginnings and where he ended up,” the 17-year-old said. “But also, just to see how real he seemed and how he wanted to connect. It seemed like he wanted to genuinely get to know every individual.”
Jaden said he was honoured to be able to lead the haka pōwhiri to welcome the rugby great. The College’s Pasifika Group also performed.
“The boys took a lot of pride in being able to perform their piece in front of him and their families and the wider audience.”
The main piece of advice he took from Sir Michael’s korero was that it doesn’t matter where you come from but that you must always hold onto your morals and beliefs and put those before everything else.
“That’s something he did throughout his life and throughout his career. He held his morals and his religion and catholic beliefs and culture above all and then he came back to rugby.”
Sir Michael played 55 tests for the All Blacks from 1987 to 1998 and was a member of the team that won the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1087.
His strong Christian beliefs saw him refuse to play rugby on a Sunday, but he is widely regarded as one of the greatest All Blacks ever.
The team were able to ask him questions in front of the packed-out hall including about his career and what advice he would give in terms of rugby and life balance.
“We also asked him a couple of funny things here and there and his responses were real in-depth and gave us a lot of insight into his life and all that,” Jaden said.
Sir Michael said it was “such a privilege” to be involved.
“I was hugely impressed with everything about SJC, in particular the amazing "village" around the boys there and the boys themselves of course! They are a credit to the incredible work that Matt, Luke, Sam, Rochelle and all those who are involved in making them better.
“I’m so pleased the funds raised will meet the immediate needs particular with regards boots and that awesome trip south. The boys will never forget this wonderful experience...I never forget mine, treasured memories with my mates and coaches I idolised.”
PHOTO: Sir Michael Jones pictured with St. John's College student Jaden Murphy. Photo/Supplied.