Kingsley Jones: Canada coach waits on funeral travel decision

Kingsley Jones won 10 caps for Wales between 1996 and 1998
Kingsley Jones won 10 caps for Wales between 1996 and 1998

Canada coach Kingsley Jones is hoping he will be allowed to travel New Zealand to attend his father’s funeral.

Phil Kingsley Jones, the Welshman who managed New Zealand rugby great Jonah Lomu, died aged 72 earlier this month.

His son is aiming to make the trip to New Zealand from Canada for a five-week trip including a month of quarantine.

“I have feared over the last few months if he passed in this Covid situation I’d not be able to attend the funeral,” said Jones.

The former Wales captain would fly from Los Angeles to Auckland and have to spend 14 days in self-isolation when he arrives in New Zealand and two more weeks when he returns to Canada.

Under current border restrictions, Jones will need an exemption from Immigration New Zealand to enter the country which he has applied to enter on humanitarian grounds.

Currently, the borders are closed to most non-New Zealand residents, unless they have a “critical” reason to travel there.

So as Jones is not a New Zealander, he will need to apply for “critical purpose travel” approval.

“He was telling me a week before he passed don’t come, it’s going to be a huge challenge but his wish was to have a big funeral… with his only son there,” said Jones.

“To get into New Zealand is a huge challenge and if I manage to be successful, I will have to quarantine in a hotel where I will be self-isolating.

“It will take five weeks but to be able to spend the day with my family at my father’s funeral is worth it and something I need for closure.

“It would be tough being by myself for two weeks quarantine without my family, but it is the same for everyone in the world. I would gladly do that to support my family at the farewell and be there for him.”

A successful comedian, Phil Kingsley Jones emigrated to New Zealand in 1983 and went on to coach with the Counties Manukau Rugby Union.

It was there he crossed paths with a teenage Lomu, dissuading him from going to rugby league and shaping the career of arguably union’s first superstar.

Phil Kingsley Jones and Jonah Lomu in 1995
Phil Kingsley Jones and Jonah Lomu in 1995

Jones managed Lomu – who died in November 2015 aged 40 from a rare kidney condition – for 10 years from 1994 until 2004.

He worked at Counties Manukau for 15 years from 1989-1996 and 2009-2017 in a variety of roles, while he also coached the Tonga national team.

“I am up and down and it’s been a tough week since my father passed,” said Kingsley Jones.

“He lived to 72 but has probably filled his life with somebody who was 100 because he had had many experiences.

“He touched so many people from normal rugby fans to some of the most respected people in the game. That was the gift he had.”

BBC News