Cape Town - The South African Rugby Union (SARU) and the Golden Lions advised Western Province to not appoint John Mitchell as new Stormers coach.
SARU president Oregan Hoskins spoke to the Sunday Times where he revealed that he, and Golden Lions president Kevin de Klerk, warned the Capetonians to not appoint the New Zealander.
Thelo Wakefield, president of the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU), last week said Mitchell’s poor track record of people skills was the reason he was not appointed Stormers coach for next year’s Super Rugby competition.
The union’s Director of Rugby, Gert Smal, was keen to appoint Mitchell as Stormers coach but in the end had to settle for Robbie Fleck, who was named interim coach last weekend.
Mitchell formerly coached the All Blacks, Western Force and Golden Lions but his departures there were shrouded in controversy, with stories plentiful of how unhappy team members were at his coaching and man-management methods.
According Hoskins, WP made the right decision.
“The Golden Lions had a tough parting with Mitchell,” Hoskins said. “I was still president of SARU and I was intimately involved in his arbitration hearing.”
Hoskins was referring to complaints laid against Mitchell by certain Lions players in 2012. Mitchell was later cleared of all 28 charges, with the Lions having to make a substantial payout to him. As the Lions were struggling financially at the time, SARU had to provide assistance.
“When Western Province considered Mitchell for the Stormers coaching job, Kevin de Klerk and I spoke to Thelo and said that we strongly feel that they shouldn't consider him, given the experience we had at the Lions,” Hoskins added.