Cleared: Mitchell must report for duty

Thu, 08 Nov 2012 10:38
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John Mitchell has been 'requested' to report for duty at the Golden Lions Rugby Union headquarters in Johannesburg on Friday.

John Mitchell has been 'requested' to report for duty at the Golden Lions Rugby Union headquarters in Johannesburg on Friday.

This follows a statement from his management team, the Fordham Company, which claimed Mitchell has been found "not guilty" on all counts of misconduct levelled against him by the GLRU.

Lions CEO Ruben Moggee confirmed to this website that Mitchell has been 'requested' to attend a meeting at GLRU headquarters on Friday, but declined to comment on the Fordham claims - that the coach has been cleared of all charges.

"There will be no comment until after the meeting [on Friday]," was the terse response to a question, if the Fordham statement was accurate.

The latest development in the protracted arbitration saga - which started with Mitchell's suspension in June - came on the same day that former South African Sevens captain Jonathan Mokuena became the first player to publicly speak out against Mitchell.

Mokuena said it will be the "biggest mistake" in the history of South African rugby if Mitchell is reinstated as Lions head coach. The loose forward, who played in almost 30 tournaments on the IRB Sevens World Series and captained South Africa for a season, went on to call the Kiwi a "demon".

However, Mitchell's management team is adamant he can resume his duties at the Lions without any problems.

"With his suspension formally lifted, Mitchell has been requested to return to work as Golden Lions head coach tomorrow [Friday, November 9]," his lawyer Brian Patterson, of Edwards Nathan Sonnenbergs, said in a statement.

Patterson said the GLRU had finally released its full findings and recommendations of the disciplinary chairperson, Peter Bam.

Patterson stressed that no further comment could be made on the subject at this stage, because of legal reasons.

"John  is elated with the outcome and feels that his position and reputation as an international coach has been fully vindicated," said his management agency, the Fordham Company.

"He is looking forward to returning to Ellis Park as head coach to assist the Lions to achieve their full potential."

The agency’s Chief Executive, John Fordham, said in the statement that Bam had made a number of "recommendations" relating to the restoring of the working relationships between Mitchell and the GLRU.

"John is committed to working hard together with the GLRU to address these issues going forward," he Fordham said.

Fordham added that Mitchell’s legal representatives and the GLRU’s lawyers Erasmus Inc were engaged in discussions to address the resolution of certain underlying issues that gave rise to the complaints and to discuss Mitchell’s future with the union.

"John is committed to remaining in South Africa and in continuing in his position as head coach of the GLRU," Fordham said, adding: "He’s looking forward to his return to the union tomorrow."

By Jan de Koning

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