Mitchell goes to school

Fri, 08 Mar 2013 16:18
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It’s not just about the rugby and winning

John Mitchell, one of the best-known rugby coaches and analysts in the world, is helping Kingswood College of Grahamstown to prepare for the coming season.

In his day Mitchell, who turns 49 later this month, played well over a hundred times for Waikato and then became a coach, coaching the All Blacks, Sale Sharks, Western Force and the Golden Lions. He was South Africa's Coach of the Year in 2011 and now appears regularly on Supersport programmes as an analyst.

Kingswood College was founded in 1894. It is now a co-ed school and takes its rugby seriously.

Mitchell is excited about working with the Kingswood boys, saying that he has a passion to teach and especially to empower coaches. He said: “I understand what it is to be a young start-out coach, and it is my objective to give them the resources for input into their teams to improve individual development and team performance. The openness of the coaches to learn has really struck me – they don't see this as threatening, but an opportunity to develop their resources.”

Kingswood Head of Sport, Pieter Serfontein said that Mitchell’s involvement in the rugby programme was a long-term investment. “We see this input as influencing several seasons ahead, in which we can assess our systems and put in new ones. John will be working with us for the pre-season lead up and into the season, fitting in with our fixtures. It’s a real privilege to have John here – our coaches and players are very excited and willing to learn from him."

Talking about school boy rugby, Mitchell said, “There is so much talent in South African schools rugby, I would say some of the best in the world. Here, school rugby is a stepping stone to professional rugby, and we need to give every boy the ability to become a better player. It’s not just about the rugby and winning, but all the lessons that come out of team sports. Coaches need to be provided with the resources to develop that talent, and players can also start to see coaching as a career path. It’s refreshing to be associated with a school like Kingswood with its wonderful tradition and energy, and the ethos that the players have to work hard. ”

Mitchell has an impressive CV. As All Black Head Coach from 2001-2003, he had an 86% success rate. He has worked in Australian, New Zealand, Britain and now calls South Africa home. His mantra is “A coach is someone who tells you what you don't want to hear, who has you see what you don't want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be!”.