Multi-talented rugby player hails from ‘redneck wonderland’

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His fans and teammates would say he’s a rugby player tried and true, but his friends and family say that’s just one of his many hobbies.

Meet Richard Jones, senior winger for BYU rugby. Even though he’s been on the rugby field for the greater part of the last few years, Jones said his true passion is the outdoors.

BYU rugby player Richard Jones. Photo by Elliott Miller
BYU rugby player Richard Jones. Photo by Elliott Miller

“If I had to choose between hunting and sports, I would never play sports again,” Jones said. “I love the outdoors. Most of my best memories are out there.”

Jones grew up in West Plains, Mo. on 800 acres of what he calls “redneck wonderland,” and spent his childhood four-wheeling, fishing and hunting with his nine siblings.

“There was always something outside to do,” Jones said. “I probably spent more time outside than in school my senior year of high school.”

Jones spent every summer for 10 years with his uncles in Wyoming bow hunting elk. His lifelong hunting dream is to kill a lion with his bow.

To complement Jones’ woodsman side, his Italian mother, a Julliard graduate, decided her children all needed to have a more refined side to match. All 10 Jones children play the harp, as well as studying either the piano, cello, violin or singing.

“As a family we would all play together at weddings, banquets and parties, and every Christmas we put on a show,”Jones said. “We were actually the 1994 Missouri Musical Family of the Year.”

As far as athletics, Jones grew playing just about every sport except rugby. He began with soccer, basketball and baseball. Jones played all three in high school, and played baseball in Virginia his freshman year of college before serving an LDS mission in Uruguay.

After his mission, Jones walked on to the BYU football team as a kicker but only lasted until the first game of the season.

For the past two years, Jones has played for the BYU rugby team, and he said his experiences growing up taught him what it takes to be a successful athlete.

“Sometimes it’s really cold — you still go hunting,” Jones said. “Most of the time you have to go really early in the morning, and you sacrifice a lot of sleep — you still go. Sports are the same way. You have to learn how to sacrifice a social life, a lot of school time and learn to balance the demands of the sport.”

Rugby coach David Smyth said Jones is a motivated player, and a lot of that motivation stemmed from Jones’s upbringing.

“Life up to this point has a big influence on the players and what they are trying to accomplish,” Smyth said. “Jones is motivated to be successful. He wants big things and that’s contagious.”

“Jones isn’t your typical BYU kid,” said Dan Hubert, fellow teammate and senior. “He’s super non-judgmental, he gets along with everybody and we have tons of fun. We’re more like brothers.”

Even though he’s far from home and playing sports, Jones still makes time to ride some local horses and go on outdoor adventures. Jones will graduate in April with a degree in exercise and wellness. He plans to move home to Missouri to start an equestrian therapy program for children with disabilities.

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