John Kirwan is a former player and coach who remains a giant of rugby in New Zealand. Discover more about his life and career with rugby gurus RugbyPass.
John Kirwan Bio
John Kirwan is a former player and coach who enjoyed a highly distinguished career in both codes of the game. John Kirwan was inducted into the RugbyPass Hall of Fame in 2021.
Born 16 December 1964, John Kirwan made 142 appearances for Auckland between 1983 and 1994. During the same period, he also represented Marist (1983-94), Treviso (1985-89) and Thiene (1989-90). Following this, he finished his domestic career with the NEC Green Rockets in Japan (1997-99).
In addition to this, as well as being a highly distinguished rugby union player, John Kirwan also spent a period of his career playing rugby league. Between 1995 and 1996, he made 35 appearances for the Auckland Warriors and was the side’s top try scorer in 1996.
However, John Kirwan undoubtedly experienced his greatest successes playing rugby union. Due to this, during his rugby union career, he was capped 63 times by the All Blacks. During this period, he was a member of the All Blacks side that went 23 games unbeaten between 1987 and 1990. As part of this stretch, he won the Rugby World Cup.
After retiring from rugby in 1999, John Kirwan stayed with the NEC Green Rockets and became the club’s coach. Then, in 2001, he left to become an assistant with the Blues. Since, he’s held a number of coaching positions, including stints as the head coach of the Blues and Barbarians. He’s also been the head coach of Japan and Italy. He last held a coaching position in 2015.
Thanks to the success he experienced in the game, John Kirwan was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2012. He was also inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2014.
Since retirement, John Kirwan has also been open about his battle with his mental health and depression. As a result, he remains actively involved in mental health and depression awareness campaigns in New Zealand.