Sir John Kirwan

About Sir

Sir John Kirwan (JK) is one of New Zealand’s favourite former All Blacks.

He played for the national team for a decade and is known as one of the highest try scorers in rugby history and was part of the team to win the first Rugby World Cup in 1987.

He is the former head coach of the Blues in Super Rugby, and the Japan and Italy national teams. 

In recent years, he has spoken openly about his battles with depression and been honoured for his services to mental health. It was for this work, as well as his rugby career, that he was honoured with a knighthood.

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Career Highlights

1983 - 1994; played for Marist Brothers Old Boys RFC & Auckland domestically, winning 142 caps with the latter during an era when the side dominated the NPC and Ranfurly Shield


Named an All Black - played 63 test matches for New Zealand from 1984 until 1994


1985 - 1989 he played at Benetton Treviso in Italy, winning the Italian championship in 1989


Part of the 1987 All Black Rugby World Cup winning team


New Year Honours, Kirwan was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire, for services to rugby


Assistant coach with the Auckland Blues


Become the coach of the Italian national rugby team, which under his guidance recorded two victories over Wales in 2003 and Scotland in 2004


Appointed the coach of the Japan national rugby union team


At the 2007 Rugby World Cup, Japan drew 12–12 with Canada, breaking a 16-year, 13-match losing streak. Kirwan remained head coach of Japan through the 2011 Rugby World Cup


In the 2007 Queen's Birthday Honours, Kirwan was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to mental health


Inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame


2012 Queen's Birthday and Diamond Jubilee Honours, he was promoted to Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to mental health and rugby


2013 - 2015, Head Coach of the Blues

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