Mix it up

Eddie Jones' England bring in experienced John Mitchell as defence coach

The former All Blacks head coach is an intriguing appointment a year out from the World Cup.

ENGLAND HAVE CONFIRMED the appointment of John Mitchell as defence coach after buying the New Zealander out of his contract with the Blue Bulls.

Former All Blacks head coach Mitchell has previously been part of the England coaching team, working under Clive Woodward from 1997 to 2000.

John Mitchell Mitchell has vast experience. Photosport / Bruce Lim/INPHO Photosport / Bruce Lim/INPHO / Bruce Lim/INPHO

Mitchell now joins Eddie Jones’ staff a year out from the World Cup, with Paul Gustard having left the defence coach role in May to join Harlequins.

England have also confirmed that Scott Wisemantel will continue in his role as an attack consultant, having linked up with them for the June tour of South Africa.

54-year-old Mitchell is highly experienced, having also held head coaching positions with the US, Lions, Western Force, Chiefs, Waikato, and Sale Sharks, while he also had a short stint as Ireland forwards coach under Murray Kidd in 1996.

He joined the Blue Bulls as executive of rugby last year, winning four games in 2017 and six this year.

The South African franchise’s defensive record was relatively poor under Mitchell, but England boss Jones is convinced that the Kiwi can help improve his team in that area ahead of the World Cup.

“Defence is a key pillar of our game and John is an experienced coach,” said Jones.

“He’s coached the All Blacks, USA Rugby and a number of Super Rugby sides so he will bring a wealth of experience and add to the coaching mix we have here.”

Eddie Jones with Joe Schmidt before the game Ireland got the better of Jones' England in this year's Six Nations. Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

The dynamic between Mitchell and Jones, who is just four years older than the Kiwi, will be intriguing to follow as they look to turn England’s fortunes around after the disappointment of last season.

A number of Mitchell’s previous coaching roles have ended in controversial circumstances.

“This is an exciting opportunity to work with England Rugby and support Eddie Jones as head coach,” said Mitchell.

“I will be joining an elite high-performance programme, Test team and coaching group where I will use all my experience and focus to bring the necessary clarity and confidence to the players from a defensive perspective.”

Wisemantel, who worked with Jones’ Japan at the 2015 World Cup, will continue to provide England with support around their attack coaching for the November Tests.

“We are really pleased to have Scott back for the Quilter Internationals as we continue to develop our attack,” said Jones. “He did a great job with us in South Africa in June.”

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