Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Johannesburg - The Golden Lions are still in shock at the attack on their New Zealand coach John Mitchell on Saturday night when the former All Black mentor was stabbed in a housebreaking incident.
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Mitchell spent the night in hospital on Saturday after being stabbed twice in his house, but has been released from hospital and will be back at work at the Union’s offices on Monday.
The Rugby Union confirmed the incident in a late night press release on Sunday, in an incident which will do South Africa’s crime reputation no favours abroad.
The incident happened at around 22:00 on Saturday night when the home shared by Mitchell and his fellow Kiwi Wayne Taylor - the Lions conditioning coach - was broken into by two home invaders.
“During the break in, John Mitchell was attacked and stabbed twice - once in the thigh and once in the upper arm. The invaders took a few possessions and then ran off before Mitchell was taken to a hospital in Sandton,” the Lions press release stated.
Mitchell stayed in hospital for the night where he received treatment and stitches to the two wounds. He was released on Sunday morning and will return to work on Monday.
"We have rallied around both John and Wayne during this terrible time and have placed them both in new accommodation for the time being while we find them new permanent residency. The complex they were staying in has a reputation for being very safe, and as a result we never had any doubt that they were out of harms way.
"Mitchell will be back at the office on Monday where we will give him our full support and encouragement", Golden Lions Rugby Union president Kevin de Klerk said.
Apparently Mitchell heard a commotion in the house on Saturday night and, believing it to be Taylor playing a prank on him, inadvertently tackled one of the intruders. A second man then allegedly stabbed Mitchell in the arm and thigh. Taylor was not injured in the attack.
"He thought Wayne was playing a joke on him, so he actually jumped on the person, but it was actually one of the intruders," Lions spokesperson Krystle Geach told New Zealand newspapers. Mitchell's cellphone and laptop were stolen by the intruder.
Warrant officer Moses Maphakela from Johannesburg police told NZPA the intruders had gone into the apartment through the kitchen window. "They went to the room of John Mitchell. They demanded money. They tied his hands and feet with a rope."
Taylor, who had been sleeping in the other room, managed to escape through a bathroom window, and called police. Maphakela said the men walked away with two laptop computers, cellphones, an iPod, a digital camera and cash.
"We recovered the two laptops and the digital camera outside the house." Maphakela said police were still looking for suspects. Mitchell has been contracted to coach the Johannesburg-based team the Lions in the Super 15 competition next year after spending four years coaching the Perth-based Western Force.
He was appointed All Blacks coach in 2001 and led two Tri-Nations titles in 2002 and 2003 as well as regaining the Bledisloe Cup off Australia in 2003. He was fired after the All Blacks failed bid to win the Rugby World Cup in 2003 and replaced by Graham Henry.