Lions 'suspend' their coach

Fri, 22 Jun 2012 12:28
Large kevin de klerk presser 630 Large john mitchell lions2 630

The Golden Lions Rugby Union have suspended their head coach John Mitchell. Jan de Koning brings you this exclusive report.

The Golden Lions Rugby Union have suspended their head coach John Mitchell.

This follows the revelation that a group of players have presented a 'list of grievances' to GLRU President Kevin de Klerk as a result of the manner in which Mitchell treats players.

De Klerk, in an exclusive interview with this website, confirmed that Mitchell has been suspended with immediate affect.

"The nature of the [players'] complaints is so serious that we have suspended him [Mitchell], pending further investigation," De Klerk said.

De Klerk would not elaborate on the details of the players' complaints, saying that the decision was "not taken lightly".

"There are a number of complaints that came from the players," the GLRU boss said, adding: "We had a board meeting last [Thursday] night and regard it of such a serious nature that we suspended his services with immediate effect ... pending further investigation .

"We discussed the matter at length with our legal advisors and all the stakeholders and we arrived at this decision."

Mitchell's assistants, Carlos Spencer and Johan Ackermann, will take charge of the team when the Super Rugby competition resumes next week.

The Lions' three remaining fixtures this season will see them take on the Stormers at Newlands, the Rebels in Johannesburg and the Bulls in Pretoria.

Despite being part of the Lions set-up that secured their first Currie Cup title in 12 years, when they beat a star-studded Sharks team in last year's Final in Johannesburg, the players feel aggrieved at Mitchell's behaviour.

The Lions mentor recently told this website that he wants to see out his contract, which runs to the end of 2013, with the Johannesburg-based franchise.

However, reports of a player revolt were confirmed on Friday.

Among the reports that emerged is that the players had asked him to leave the dressing room before their 38-28 win over the Sharks in Johannesburg - in the last round of matches before the break.

The players had discarded Mitchell's game plan and did what they felt was best, producing their best performance of the season and only their second win of 2012.

The former All Black coach faced a similar revolt before his departure from the Western Force in Perth, where he was 'removed' from the day-to-day coaching for a short while and later allowed to continue under 'strict supervision' from his assistants and senior players.

Mitchell, despite his 82 percent success rate and taking the All Blacks to the 2003 World Cup semifinal, was axed as New Zealand's national team coach.

Later reports emerged of player discontent.

De Klerk said he can't comment on Mitchell's past history at the All Blacks and Western Force.

"We have based our decision purely on the strength and merits of his performance here with us [at the Lions]," he said, adding: "The complaints is of such a serious nature that we are duty-bound to investigate those [complaints]."

John Mitchell, who was unavailable for comment, was in Port Elizabeth on Friday and the documentation was handed to his agent, as the Lions boss was unable to make personal contact with him.

Apart from the fall-out with the coach, there is also great uncertainty among players over the future of the union in Super Rugby.

The Lions, the lowest ranked South African team and sitting 14th on the global table of 15 teams, remain the 'front-runners' to be eliminated if the Southern Kings enter Super Rugby in 2013.

And Lions captain Joshua Strauss, speaking to this website in an exclusive interview, admitted that some players were "talking to their agents".

By Jan de Koning

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 17 February 2018
Cardiff Blues v Munster 17h30 Cardiff Arms Park
Sun, 18 February 2018
Wasps v Exeter Chiefs 15h00 Ricoh Arena
Dragons v Treviso 15h30 Rodney Parade
Mon, 19 February 2018
NMMU-Madibaz v Wits 14h45 Port Elizabeth
Maties v CUT-Ixias 16h30 Cape Town
UCT-Ikeys v Shimlas 16h30 Cape Town
NWU-Pukke v UJ 17h00 Potchefstroom
Fri, 23 February 2018
Dragons v Edinburgh 22h00 Rodney Parade
Highlanders v Blues 06h35 Dunedin
Rebels v Reds 08h45 Melbourne
Munster v Glasgow Warriors 19h00 Irish Independent Park
Leinster v Kings 19h35 RDS
Scarlets v Ulster 19h35 Parc y Scarlets
France v Italy 20h00 Paris
Sat, 24 February 2018
Sunwolves v Brumbies 04h15 Tokyo
Crusaders v Chiefs 06h35 Christchurch
Waratahs v Stormers 08h45 Allianz Park
Treviso v Connacht 12h00 Stadio Monigo
Bath v Sale Sharks 12h30 Recreation Ground
Lions v Jaguares 13h05 Johannesburg
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Ireland v Wales 14h15 Aviva Stadium
Gloucester v Wasps 14h30 Kingsholm
Harlequins v Newcastle Falcons 15h00 Twickenham Stoop
Bulls v Hurricanes 15h15 Loftus Versfeld
Scotland v England 16h45 BT Murrayfield
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 0 0 0 0 0
Reds 0 0 0 0 0
Waratahs 0 0 0 0 0
Sunwolves 0 0 0 0 0
Rebels 0 0 0 0 0
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 0 0 0 0 0
Hurricanes 0 0 0 0 0
Chiefs 0 0 0 0 0
Highlanders 0 0 0 0 0
Blues 0 0 0 0 0
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 1 1 0 0 4
Lions 1 1 0 0 4
Sharks 1 0 0 1 1
Bulls 0 0 0 0 0
Jaguares 1 0 0 1 0