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
Fri, 27 April 2018
Hurricanes v Sunwolves 07h35 Wellington
Stormers v Rebels 13h00 Newlands
Leicester Tigers v Newcastle Falcons 18h45 Welford Road
Sat, 28 April 2018
Reds v Lions 05h05 Suncorp Stadium
Blues v Jaguares 07h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Crusaders 09h45 Canberra
Kings v Cheetahs 13h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks 14h00 Sandy Park
Worcester Warriors v Harlequins 14h00 Sixways
Gloucester v Bath 14h00 Kingsholm
Connacht v Leinster 14h05 Sportsground
Dragons v Scarlets 14h05 Rodney Parade
Bulls v Highlanders 15h15 Loftus Versfeld
Treviso v Zebre 16h00 Stadio Monigo
Cardiff Blues v Ospreys 16h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Munster v Ulster 16h35 Thomond Park
Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 Myreside
Sun, 29 April 2018
London Irish v Saracens 14h00 Madejski Stadium
Wasps v Northampton Saints 14h00 Ricoh Arena
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 22 April 2018
Racing Metro v Munster 27 | 22
Brumbies v Jaguares 20 | 25
Sat, 21 April 2018
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 36 | 15
Zebre v Ospreys 37 | 14
Sharks v Stormers 24 | 17
Leinster v Scarlets 38 | 16
Bulls v Rebels 28 | 10
Reds v Chiefs 12 | 36
Crusaders v Sunwolves 33 | 11
Fri, 20 April 2018
Waratahs v Lions 0 | 29
Blues v Highlanders 16 | 34
Sun, 15 April 2018
Saracens v Bath 41 | 6
London Irish v Exeter Chiefs 5 | 45
Sat, 14 April 2018
Leinster v Treviso 15 | 17
Kings v Cardiff Blues 12 | 45
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 8 5 1 2 24
Rebels 87 4 0 4 21
Brumbies 8 3 0 5 15
Reds 8 3 0 5 13
Sunwolves 8 0 0 8 2
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 8 6 0 2 29
Hurricanes 7 6 0 1 27
Chiefs 8 6 0 2 26
Highlanders 7 5 0 2 24
Blues 8 2 0 6 12
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 9 6 0 3 30
Bulls 8 4 0 4 19
Sharks 9 3 1 5 18
Jaguares 9 4 0 5 16
Stormers 9 3 0 6 14