Jamie Jones-Buchanan honoured to close special chapter with an MBE

JAMIE JONES-BUCHANAN has spoken of his “pride” at being awarded the MBE – the fourth member of Leeds Rhinos’ ‘Golden Generation’ to be celebrated in such a way.

Houred: Jamie Jones Buchanan.
Houred: Jamie Jones Buchanan.

The former England second-row, who played more than 400 games for his home-town club and won all the major trophies, was made an MBE in the 2022 New Year Honours list for his services to rugby league.

He follows Rhinos team-mates Jamie Peacock (2012), Kevin Sinfield (2014) and Rob Burrow (2021) in becoming a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Jones-Buchanan, who prospered in seven Grand Finals with Leeds during his remarkable 20-year career and also represented Great Britain, is one of the sport’s most colourful characters.

Having retired in 2019 to become one of the West Yorkshire club’s assistant coaches, he is also widely respected for his work in his local community.

Jones-Buchanan, 40, is a trustee of the Leeds Rhinos Foundation, the Leeds 2023 Year of Culture and the Red Ladder Theatre Company as well as a patron of Inspire North.

He has built a successful production company with RAM Films and is also a passionate speaker about his Christian faith while remaining very much the spiritual leader of the Rhinos camp.

“It is a massive honour,” said Jones-Buchanan.

“I am really proud. People have seen me grow up at Rhinos and many a time I’ve spoken on how privileged and grateful I feel for that opportunity to go on a journey with an unbelievable group of individuals in a really special environment

“And, on occasion, I’ve maybe abstractly segued into this idea of being a medieval romanticist and a big fan of plantagenet history.

“Whilst it’s not relevant in 2021 in terms of accolades, it’s as close as you are ever going to get.

“The boy inside me, the excited young kid, sees it a bit like that.

“I was at Conwy Castle the other day, buying some bits of merchandise living up that medieval theme!

“But the overarching message is that I’m just a product of that environment and a reflection of the people I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by.

“You all know the characters I’m talking about – Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock, Rob Burrow, Danny McGuire – and a very, very special cohort of players both successful on the pitch and probably, in many ways, more successful off it.

“I think that group shines brighter now than it did on the field which again is just testament to the culture, team spirit and camaraderie we had as a group of men.”

Jones-Buchanan is referring there, in part, to the way they have rallied around former Leeds scrum-half Burrow, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease two years ago.

Rhinos’ iconic former captain Sinfield has led fund-raising initiatives with two immense challenges – running seven marathons in seven days last year and then, last month, 101 miles in 24 hours – raising more than £4m for Burrow, MND research and a new Rob Burrow Centre for MND in Leeds.

As he begins to get to grips with having more initials to his name – “in lots of talks in schools and community clubs I’ve said how my long name got shortened to JJB at Rhinos and now there’s three more letters to add on” –Jones-Buchanan explained how he found out the MBE news.

“We’ve moved to a new office at our Kirkstall training base,” he said.

“There’s a bit of temporary upheaval and I was squeezing past (assistant coach) Sean Long which is always an experience on a morning.

“Just as I was sitting down in my new space, Sarah Tate, our HR manager, walked in and said ‘Jonesy, I’ve got a letter for you.’

“It looked pretty formal and had Her Majesty’s Service on it.

“I’ve said before when lads from Bramley get letters like that it’s not usually good news!

“I opened it thinking it might be something from the tax man and quickly saw it was an invitation to accept an MBE. I was blown away.

“It’s been a really long 18 months for everyone (with Covid). Whilst reflecting on how I’m still transitioning from being a professional rugby league player to assistant coach and redefining who I am as an individual – thinking about that next chapter in my life going from 40 to 60 years old – getting that letter was a really nice punctuated end to a really special chapter in my life.

“It was an encouragement as well, warm and satisfying.”