It was with great sadness that the club learnt of the death of former player, Phil Kingsley Jones, in New Zealand where he had lived for many years. Phil, a front row forward in his playing days for Ebbw Vale, Abertillery and Blaina, was the first generation to play for the Steelmen, followed by his son Kingsley and grandsons, Rhys and Dorian with Rhys still maintaining the family playing link with the club.
Phil became widely known for his role as a coach, mentor and manager of the rugby phenomenon that was Jonah Lomu, the first truly global rugby icon. Phil guided his career and ensured that his talent was recognised throughout the world.
Many in the Ebbw Vale area are eternally grateful to Phil for bringing Jonah to Ebbw Vale where he wore the Steelmen colours in a friendly game. Rugby fans old and young queued for autographs from the All Black giant with a smiling Phil by his side, the sense of pride in his protégé only matched by his pride in the area he came from.
As well as his work with Jonah, Phil was widely respected for his 30 years service to Counties Manukua rugby in various roles. His success as a coach led him to coach the Tongan national team and create another Steelmen link with guiding second row Kuli Faletau and full back Josh Taumololo to Ebbw, after a request from his son who was captaining the club at the time. Both played starring roles in the club’s success at the time and this action by Phil has also had a major influence on Welsh rugby with Kuli’s son Talupe becoming a star player for his adopted homeland. It is expected that several other sons of Tongan imports will make their mark on Welsh rugby in the near future.
Away from the game, Phil became a professional comedian and can only be described as a larger than life character who would fill a room with his presence and ensure a laugh and a smile for all in his company.
Our thoughts are with his wife Verina, daughters Vikki and Rhiannon and stepson James, along with those close to the Steelmen, Kingsley Jnr, Rhys and Dorian.