England Rugby Names John Mitchell Defense Coach
England Rugby announced that John Mitchell has been appointed as England’s new defence coach until the end of Rugby World Cup 2019, while Scott Wisemantel will continue his role as attack coach.
Mitchell will leave his executive of rugby role at the South African Super Rugby side, the Bulls, to join the England set up in September ahead of November’s Quilter Internationals.
The 54-year-old is a vastly-experienced coach and former player. The New Zealander was an England assistant coach between 1997 and 2000 under Sir Clive Woodward for 33 Tests and has coached domestically in the Premiership at both Wasps – reaching the European Cup quarter-final – and Sale Sharks.
On January 4, 2016, Mitchell was announced as the USA Rugby Head Coach. After the 2019 Rugby World Cup Qualifiers, where the team earned the Americas 1 spot, he left as Head Coach to become the executive of rugby at Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd.
Part of the Mitchell legacy in the U.S. will include winning the first major international tournament since the 1924 Olympics, the 2017 Americas Rugby Championship. He also increased the performance standards of the national team and added numerous new National team capped players, creating many professional opportunites for USAplayers in Premiership Rugby, PRO14 Rugby, in France, Australia, New Zealand, and in South Africa.
Mitchell’s departure as coach might be criticized by some for not coaching the team through the 2019 Rugby World Cup, but a combination of his salary and the desire to have a full-time coach living in the U.S. were other considerations in his departure. USA Rugby then used their Premiership Rugby connections to hire Gary Gold as Head Coach. Gold left the Worcester Warriors and has led the Eagles to an 8-0 record during 2018. In the June tests, the U.S. squad consisted entirely of professionals for the first time.
Mitchell was also criticized in previous coaching positions for being short with the media. That was not a the case while with USA Rugby. With the announcement of his addition with England Rugby, that issue was quickly resurrected in many commnets on social media.
Continuation of England Rugby Release
“This is an exciting opportunity to work with England Rugby and support Eddie Jones as head coach,” said Mitchell.
“I will be joining an elite high-performance programme, Test team and coaching group where I will use all my experience and focus to bring the necessary clarity and confidence to the players from a defensive perspective.”
In 2001, he was appointed head coach of the All Blacks, winning 23 of 28 Tests, including one draw, and led New Zealand to a third-place finish in the 2003 Rugby World Cup. The All Blacks also won back-to-back Tri Nations titles.
Jones added: “Defence is a key pillar of our game and John is an experienced coach.
“He’s coached the All Blacks, USA Rugby and a number of Super Rugby sides so he will bring a wealth of experience and add to the coaching mix we have here.”“Defence is a key pillar of our game.”
Meanwhile, Wisemantel will continue in his role as an attack consultant, having initially taken up the position for their summer tour to South Africa.
The 48-year-old Australian was recently backs coach for Top 14 club Montpellier working with former South Africa coach Jake White.
Jones added: “We are really pleased to have Scott back for the Quilter Internationals as we continue to develop our attack. He did a great job with us in South Africa in June.”
As a coach, Wisemantel has been involved in two Rugby World Cups, one with Jones’ Japan in 2015 and during Samoa’s 2011 campaign in New Zealand where he worked as a specialist coach.
The former rugby league and rugby union player has coached at clubs in Japan and France and held a number of roles with the Wallabies, NSW Warratahs and Australia U19s.