Ex-Wales wing Jones leaves Crusaders for a stint coaching in the Gallagher Premiership
Former Wales international and backs coach Mark Jones has been appointed Worcester assistant following the expiry this week of his contract with Super Rugby side Crusaders and provincial outfit Canterbury. Covid-19 restrictions prevented Jones from returning to New Zealand ahead of the new season.
With that in mind, he has instead taken up an offer from the Gallagher Premiership Warriors to become their senior assistant coach with responsibility for defence and kicking game, starting later this week. The 41-year-old Jones, who won 47 caps and played in two World Cups with Wales while playing for Llanelli and then the Scarlets, will link up at Sixways with Jonathan Thomas, his former Test teammate.
He said: “Once it became clear that I would not be able to go back to Canterbury because of the quarantine situation, things happened very quickly with Warriors. I was made aware that Alan Solomons was looking for someone to fill a key position in the coaching team and would I be interested.
“I came up, had a look around the facilities and had a chat with Alan about his thoughts for the project, to meet the coaching group and get a feel for the place. Once I did that it was pretty clear that it was a very exciting prospect hence my interest. I know the coaches there, they are great men and I could see myself working well with them and dove-tailing with them.
“The owners have got a real ambition to have a steady but sustainable growth over the next few years based around great facilities, a young squad underpinned by the academy and a forward-looking mentality which aligned well with me.
Mark Jones has just been announced in a senior coaching role for @WorcsWarriors If you want the lowdown on his work with the Crusaders for the past two seasons, be our guest…
— The XV (@TheXV) January 5, 2021
“I have been fortunate under the current circumstances to find something that aligns as well as it has done. I would like to thank Canterbury and the Crusaders for all their amazing support and understanding around my family situation and difficult circumstances on regaining entry to New Zealand.
“Their support in this transition has been immense. Coaching there has been a terrific experience that we will look back on with great memories. We have made great friends for life. Special thanks go to the players and supporters in Christchurch for taking us into their family over the last year. Canterbury and Crusaders are among the few organisations that actually exceed their exceptional reputation around the world,” continued Jones.
Worcester boss Solomons added: “It is fantastic news for the club that Mark will be joining us here at Sixways. Mark is a well-known former Wales international who has developed into an outstanding coach. He has spent the last two seasons working as defence coach with the Crusaders Super Rugby team and attack coach with Canterbury in the Mitre Cup team where he has made a huge impression.
“Over and above his ability as a coach, Mark is a first-class person who is well known to both JT and Matt Sherratt. This will ensure that the good synergy and alignment we have in our coaching group is not only maintained but strengthened. Mark is the ideal fit for us and I look forward to all of us working together in taking the club forward.”
When injury curtailed his playing career, Jones made a smooth transition into coaching with Scarlets where he worked as backs coach between 2010 and 2015. He was Wales’ backs coach in 2012/13 and had his first experience of coaching in England when he took charge of Rotherham Titans for their 2015/16 Championship campaign.
After three years at the helm of Colwyn Bay-based Welsh Premiership club RGC, Jones worked as Namibia’s backs coach at the 2019 World Cup and then moved to New Zealand when he took up his combined roles in Christchurch with Crusaders and Canterbury.
The most eye-catching hairstyle of the Autumn Nations Cup is no more…
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 5, 2021
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