John Mitchell (rugby union)

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John Mitchell
John Mitchell, rugby union2.JPG
John Mitchell, coaching the Western Force
Full name John Eric Paul Mitchell
Date of birth (1964-03-23) 23 March 1964 (age 51)
Place of birth Hawera, Taranaki, New Zealand
Height 1.90 m (6 ft 3 in)
Weight 108 kg (17 st 0 lb)
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Coach
Coaching career
Years Club / team
New Zealand
Western Force
Golden Lions
Rugby union career

John Eric Paul Mitchell, (born 23 March 1964) is a former rugby union player and former coach for the New Zealand All Blacks. Mitchell's rugby career blossomed with the Fraser-Tech club after he moved from King Country in 1984 and was soon elected Waikato Colts captain. Having been released as coach of the Western Force, he took up coaching the Lions in the 2011 Super Rugby competition.[1] After two seasons with the Lions, Mitchell then accepted a position at Sale Sharks in the UK towards the end of 2012, but on 29 December 2012, Sale announced Mitchell had returned to South Africa citing "personal reasons".[2]


Early career[edit]

Born 23 March 1964 in Hawera, New Zealand, Mitchell was a pupil at Francis Douglas Memorial College in New Plymouth when he made the first XV; he was a member of the NZ secondary schools basketball team from 1981–83. He represented NZ Juniors in basketball in 1982–83, but then decided to concentrate on rugby.


He made his Waikato senior debut in 1985 and played at number eight, blindside flanker and lock before he became firmly established at number eight. Equal top scorer in first division rugby in 1989–90, he thus scored more tries over these seasons than any other NZ first division player.

Mitchell was given the Waikato captaincy in 1989. In 1990, because of a broken leg, he could only play half the games. He was reappointed captain in 1991 and led magnificently from that time on until his retirement just prior to the start of the 1995 season. He captained the side a record 86 times. Overall he played 134 games for Waikato and scored 67 tries. In the off season, Mitchell played club rugby in France and Ireland.


Mitchell coached in England, including a stint as England's assistant coach. He was appointed coach of the Chiefs' Super 12 side for 2001, and on 3 October 2001 was appointed as All Black coach through to the 2003 World Cup.

The All Blacks disappointing results in the 2003 World Cup played a part in Mitchell not regaining the All Blacks coaching position when the NZRFU called for candidates for the position. Mitchell controversially dropped Christian Cullen from the All Blacks despite unquestionable form in the Super 12 and only at the age of 27. For this reason and many others Mitchell is not held in high regard by the NZ Rugby public. Mitchell has since taken up the position of the Waikato NPC coach, which he held for the 2004 season, and in mid-2005 was successful in taking up the role of coach for the Australian expansion side, The Western Force, for the 2006 Super 14 competition. In March 2010, Mitchell announced that he would step down as coach of the Force once his contract expires at the end of the 2011 season.[3]

In 2010, he was appointed coach of the Golden Lions for the 2010 Currie Cup. Later that year he was appointed the coach of the Super Rugby side, the Lions.

At the end of 2010 the Golden Lions finished sixth out of eight teams on the Currie Cup log.[4]

On 29 October 2011 it was Kiwi against Kiwi in the 2011 Currie Cup final when Mitchell's Golden Lions hosted a star-studded The Sharks rugby team under fellow Kiwi John Plumtree in Johannesburg. The Natal Sharks team included the full Springbok front row as well as seven more Springboks.

The Golden Lions won the match with 42 points to 16[5] to win their first Currie Cup Championship in 12 years and also winning their first Currie Cup title on their home field in 61 years.[6]

On 22 June 2012, he was suspended after complaints from Lions players regarding the manner in which they were treated by Mitchell.[7] In November, he was found not guilty of all charges against him and reinstated as Lions head coach.[8] However, a few days later, he quit as coach to take over as a technical adviser at the Lions.[9]

On 30 October 2012 Steve Diamond, who took charge of first team at Sale Sharks, announced John Mitchell is working as a consultant. The following day the club announced Bryan Redpath was now head coach as part of a "rugby strategy management board" including Diamond, Mitchell and the club's owners. On 5 November, Mitchell stated his future is with Golden Lions in South Africa, casting doubt on a move to Sale. On 23 November, Mitchell quit the head coach role at Golden Lions, announcing he will serve as technical advisor to a Super 15 side. By 28 November, Mitchell was unveiled as "the man in charge of (Sale's) first team affairs for the remainder of the season". On 29 December 2012, Sale announced that Mitchell had returned to South Africa citing "personal reasons".[2]


  1. ^ "Lions secure Mitchell services". Sport24. 2 September 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Sale Sharks: John Mitchell quits as coach to return to South Africa". BBC News. 29 December 2012. 
  3. ^ Mitchell announces he'll stand down as Force coach, The Roar, Retrieved on 25 March 2010.
  4. ^ premier league log, Supersport, Retrieved on 30 October 2011.
  5. ^ [1], Supersport, Retrieved on 30 October 2011.
  6. ^ [2], Rugbyweek, Retrieved on 30 October 2011.
  7. ^ "Lions suspend coach Mitchell". Sport24. 22 June 2012. 
  8. ^ "Mitchell back as Lions coach". Sport24. 8 November 2012. 
  9. ^ "Mitchell quits as Lions coach". Sport24. 23 November 2012. 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Wayne Smith
All Blacks coach
Succeeded by
Graham Henry