• Simon Jones back in New Zealand after Whipping Japan into Shape

    When rugby football success is found, it does not take much investigating to find a Kiwi hand involved.

    Watch out world! A New Zealander has taken the helm with the Wallabies.

    The topic for now, however, is the impact a certain Simon Jones produced when he went to Japan for a role with the Brave Blossoms.

    As the strength and conditioning coach, he helped the team move past Tier 2 status to the point that finds them ranked sixth in the world following the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

    Jones is credited with showing the Japanese players how to develop the strength and stamina to advance to the World Cup quarterfinals.

    Jones is back in New Zealand to see if he can work similar magic with the Highlanders in time for the 2020 Super Rugby season.

    Japan is savvy when it comes to gaining a desired objective. They could have insisted on a Japanese management group, but they went to the source of all that is best when it comes to football, using an all-New Zealand team, including coach Jamie Joseph, Tony Brown, Scott Hansen and Karl McDonald.

    The question of perspective figures prominently in Jones’ case.

    Had he had a role in the All Blacks third placing in the World Cup, he might be looking for work. Getting Japan into the quarterfinals means that he may never have to pay for his own rice and sake ever again.

    Jones spent three years in Japan and while it initially may have seemed a lost cause, the New Zealand management team of which Jones was part showed the Brave Blossoms where they needed to improve to gain relevance.

    “We did a lot of high volume running, and I don’t mean shuttles, it was during our actual rugby sessions. We based a lot of it on rugby metrics – what were the longest phases of rugby, how long is the ball in play normally, what do we need to do to play at a speed that was above the norm. We targeted the higher end of all those levels and trained above that, probably for longer than other teams.”

    “You can still see the effect that it’s having in Japan on social media, I think there’s even a street parade coming up in December,” Jones said, in a report published by Southland Sport.