A New Zealand representative from Addington in the early-1930s, Jim Amos carved out an even greater legacy as coach during Kiwis’ halcyon era of the 1950s.
Born in Cust, the former Marist Old Boys rugby union player made his Canterbury debut in 1927. He spent the 1928 season in Auckland with City and featured at five-eighth in the province’s match against the touring England team.
Amos returned to Addington in 1929, helping the club to its first title, and played in South Island’s maiden victory over North. He was chosen to tour Australia with the New Zealand side in 1930 (no Tests were played) and starred in a win over Auckland upon the squad’s homecoming.
The 25-year-old was called up for his sole Test appearance in 1932, picked at lock in New Zealand’s second-Test team to face England at Monica Park in Christchurch. Amos kicked four goals in the hosts’ 25-14 loss.
He captained Canterbury in 1934-35 and led Addington to Massetti Cup success in 1935 before retiring.
A long-serving selector for province, island and country from 1936, Amos coached Canterbury (1946-54), South Island (1936-39, 1947-55) and New Zealand (1952-54). He was at the helm for the Kiwis’ watershed 2-1 Test series triumphs against Australia away in 1952 – including the stunning, record-shattering 49-25 second-Test win at Lang Park – and at home in 1953. The Kiwis finished their 1952 tour of Australia with the fine record of 10 wins and three losses, also recording victories in their sole clashes with NSW and Queensland.
Amos also guided New Zealand to a hard-fought 2-1 series loss to the Great Britain tourists in 1954. His last foray as Kiwis coach was the inaugural World Cup in France in 1954, where New Zealand lost all three of its matches.
Amos’ status as one of New Zealand’s greatest-ever coaches is undeniable, lauded for his tactical nous and for instilling a player-driven culture.
“Jim was a player’s coach,” champion Kiwis fullback Des White recalled in 2016. “He mixed with the boys, had a beer with us and understood us. He had the ability to lift the players. They would die for their coach.”
Among his greatest coaching feats was nullifying the impact of legendary Australian fullback and captain Clive Churchill.
“He spotted a weakness in Churchill no one else had,” New Zealand and Canterbury league historian John Coffey asserted. “It hadn’t happened before, so I think Churchill panicked a bit, as did his team.”
A founding member and inaugural coach of Christchurch Marist (later Marist-Western Suburbs) in 1952, Amos’ monumental contribution to the game was honour with the NZRL’s Distinguished Service Award in 1980. He passed away the following year in Paraparaumu, aged 74.
NEW ZEALAND (PLAYER – 1930, 1932)
1 Test – 4 goals (8 points)
-1930 Kiwis tour of Australia
NEW ZEALAND (COACH – 1952-54)
12 Tests (5 wins, 7 losses)
-1952 Kiwis tour of Australia
-1954 World Cup tour