Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
San Diego, CA – The United States Rugby Football Foundation is auctioning off a New Zealand All Blacks jersey autographed by two of the greatest players to have ever played the game, Michael Jones and Richie McCaw.
Not only will the high bidder receive a very unique piece of rugby history just prior to this year’s Rugby World Cup, but he or she will receive the satisfaction of knowing that every cent from this auction will go towards the US Rugby Foundation’s A Ball 4 All program.
Michael “The Iceman” Jones will go down in rugby history as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, openside flanker to have ever played the game. Before George Smith, before Richie McCaw, before Phil Waugh, before Schalk Burger, there was Michael Jones. Jones used his exceptional pace and ball handling ability to be a constant threat on attack while his power and ferocious tackling made him one player every team kept an eye out for.
Former New Zealand and Auckland coach John Hart called Jones “almost the perfect rugby player.”
Jones played in 55 tests for the All Blacks during his illustrious 12 year international career that spanned from 1986-1998. Although long retired, Michael Jones is still fondly remembered in rugby circles. He was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 2003. He was voted by Rugby World magazine as the third best All Black of the 20th Century (after Colin Meads and Sean Fitzpatrick). A huge bronze statue of Jones scoring the first try in Rugby World Cup history will soon be unveiled at Auckland’s Eden Park. And so loved and respected is Jones in New Zealand, he was named one of the six ambassadors for the upcoming Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
Current All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has been part of four Canterbury teams that won the National Provincial Championship; has been a member of Crusaders’ teams that won four Super Rugby titles and lost in the final on three other occasions; has played on seven New Zealand Tri Nations Championship teams; and was a member of the All Blacks teams that took part in the 2003 and 2007 Rugby World Cups. He was also a member of New Zealand teams that won the Grand Slam in 2005, 2008 and 2010.
McCaw won the New Zealand U21 Player of the Year Award in 2001; the New Zealand Player of the Year Award in 2003, 2006 and 2009; the NPC Division One Player of the Year award in 2001 and 2004; the IRB International Player of the Year Award in 2006, 2009 and 2010; and the New Zealand Sportsman of the Year Award in 2010.
After making his New Zealand debut in 2001, McCaw has gone onto play in another 95 test matches for the All Blacks, tying him with Mils Muliaina as the most capped All Blacks player ever. In those 96 tests, McCaw’s All Blacks teams have won an incredible 89% of the matches played, including a 19-4 record against Australia, a 14-5 record vs South Africa, an 8-1 record against France and a 7-1 record versus England. In addition to being a great defender and ball winner McCaw has scored 19 tries for the All Blacks.
Photos of the jersey and more information about Michael Jones and Richie McCaw can be found on eBay, item #180704950692. (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=180704950692&ssPageName=STRK:MESCX:IT) The bidding will conclude at 10:00 a.m. (PDT) on Wednesday, August 10, 2011.