Originally from Wales, Mel Jones arrived in Victoria, BC, in 1969. He joined the Castaways Club as a player and introduced rugby at Glenlyon School, where he served as coach. In 1972, he moved to St. Michaels University School, where he continued coaching until 1991. Overseas tours were an integral part of all the programs to which he contributed.
In 1975, having retired from playing the game, he joined the Vancouver Island Rugby Referees Society (VIRRS) in order to “give something back to the game.” During his time as an active referee, he officiated at Japan Cup, Dunbar Cup and McKechnie Cup matches. He began a three-year term as President of the VIRRS in 1985, having been its allocator for several years prior.
In 1992, he joined the Board of the British Columbia Rugby Union as Chairman of Referees, where he introduced and oversaw initiatives in fitness testing, performance evaluation models, data gathering, interpretation and feedback to referees. A provincial panel of assessors followed, as did a provincial referees society (BCRRS). Mel Jones served as the BCRRS’ first President and wrote its constitution.
In 1997, he was invited to join the Referees and Laws Committee of Rugby Canada and was its Chair from 2000-2003 and 2005-2009. There he introduced national level initiatives such as fitness testing, Knowledge of Law, Participation and Self-Development. After attending an International Rugby Board (iRB) Game Development Workshop in 1999, he conducted the iRB Level III Referee Assessor Course innumerous Canadian and American cities, as well as in Fiji for the PacRim group. He also led the first iRB Level II Referee Coaching courses in Victoria and Vancouver.
His international career as a referee performance assessor began in 1997 and in 2002 he was appointed to the iRB Tier II Assessors panel. During his career, he reviewed referee performances at 20 Senior Men’s Internationals, which included the PacRim, PARA and Churchill Cup competitions, as well as the 2003 Rugby World Cup qualifying matches.
He represented Canada as a Performance Reviewer at the 2004 iRB World 7’s in Los Angeles, the 2005 U19 World Championships in Durban, South Africa and the 2006 Women’s Rugby World Cup in Edmonton, Alberta.
In addition, he qualified in 2005 as an iRB Citing Commissioner and an iRB Trainer of referees, referee coaches and educators.
Even when he was making his mark nationally and internationally, his main focus never strayed from the two societies closest to him in all ways, the VIRRS and the BCRRS. This commitment was exemplified by the numerous referee courses given and performance assessments written by him during that time. His objective for the performance review process for the referees was quite simple: to make the referees better in their next game.
Mel Jones was duly named a life member of the VIRRS in 2005 and life member of the BCRRS in 2010.