Mitchell to 'salvage' Bulls wreck
NEWS: The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd have named New Zealander John Mitchell as the new Director of Rugby at the franchise.
Mitchell, currently in charge of the United States Eagles, will assume the role in Pretoria in July - following the Eagles' June Tests and World Cup 2019 qualifying matches.
Nollis Marais will continue a head coach of the Bulls through to the end of the Super Rugby season and will also coach the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup.
The former All Black, Western Force and Lions coach said he feels "privileged" and will look to implement the same strong team culture he introduced within the Eagles player pool.
"I was brought in [by Rugby USA] for my expertise on creating a winning approach to the modern game," Mitchell said.
"I would like to thank USA Rugby, World Rugby, and all the players and staff that I have been associated with on my watch. It has been a huge privilege to play a major part in USA Eagles history and be associated with the development of young American men living a dream playing and coaching for their country and developing a sustainable High Performance model that someone else can now lead and evolve."
Barend van Graan, CEO of the BBC, said the appointment is the next step in the unfolding turnaround strategy announced by the BBC two weeks ago.
"We are working hard to ensure sustainable and long-term success for the Bulls," Van Graan said.
"As part of the process, we have now appointed the best candidate to take over the reins at the Bulls.
"We are also continuing with the rest of the process, to listen to people whose insights will help our turnaround succeed.
"We are working towards achieving success as a team on every front, to grow our supporter base and to earn trust in our brand.
"I said from the start that this would be a thorough process. We looked at options both internally and externally and had various other discussions and forums to ensure we would identify the correct candidates.
"The signing of a person with the magnitude and experience of Mitchell is a massive coup for us, as his coaching credentials and achievements speak for themselves.
"I'm sure John will be able to add immensely in terms of our goals to win trophies and more importantly to help the continued development of our coaches and players."
The 53-year-old dad of three, who was born in Hawera New Zealand, boasts an impressive record both as a player and as a coach.
Mitchell played in six matches for the All Blacks, captaining them on three occasions.
As a coach, he lead them to several memorable victories with an amazing success rate of over 80 percent, which included 2002 and 2003 Tri-Nations Championships, third place 2003 World Cup and also the Bledisloe Cup in the same year.
"I enjoy challenges and this surely is a serious challenge, but one that excites me tremendously," said Mitchell.
"I have coached against the Bulls and the Springboks many times before. They have a rich history of success, tradition and a legacy that surely surpasses most within SA Rugby and perhaps even world rugby.
"I am well aware of the responsibilities that come with this job, but I am also excited about the opportunities and the talented players at the Bulls."
Gert Wessels, President of the Blue Bulls Rugby Union, was also excited about the appointment.
"It's been a tough year at Loftus, and some big decisions had to be made," Wessels said.
"The Bulls board and executives decided to implement a strategy, which will have an immediate effect on the short term with the least disruption on players and coaches and further exacerbate an already dire situation.
"I have no doubt that John is the man to take the Bulls forward and establish strategies that will benefit the Bulls in the long term, and I am rather excited about having a man of his calibre on our team. He is a humble man, who epitomises rugby values and what this beautiful game stands for, and I firmly believe that he will be an asset to our structures."
John Newburry, Chairman of the board, elaborated on Nollis Marais' role going forward.
"Nollis will remain in his role as the Currie Cup Head Coach. The BBCo have invested a lot of time and resources in him over the past six years, and he has come through our ranks and has achieved many successes with the various teams over the years. He is a great coach and a true Blue Bull at heart.
"This appointment will strengthen his hand and ensure that he still adds value and remains a vital part of our system. We value his efforts, his commitment and ability to adapt to the changes, but most importantly his potential to walk the path forward with this brand. He is an integral part of this system and will fulfil a very important role in Mitchell's management team."