Cape Town - John Mitchell’s poor track record of people skills was the reason he was not appointed Stormers coach for next year’s Super Rugby competition.
That is the view of Thelo Wakefield, president of the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU).
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.
Wakefield told Netwerk24 that they did thorough research regarding Mitchell by engaging with administrators and players he had coached.
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.
“We made a massive investment in young players like Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Damian de Allende, Siya Kolisi, Scarra Ntubeni and several others. It will be wrong to expose them as well as team management to such risk,” said Wakefield.
Wakefield, WP’s CEO Rob Wagner and chairperson Sam Dube were against the appointment of Mitchell.
“As much as I would have liked to have adhered to Gert’s request, I remained hesitant. I believe in Gert’s knowledge of the game and I let him follow the lead. However, there comes a time when a request needs to the denied for valid reasons.”
Smal wanted a coach with "vast Super Rugby experience" but eventually the decision was made to appoint Fleck, who was Allister Coetzee's assistant for the last few years and also coached the Western Province Under-21 team to the national title this year.