Mitchell to join Eddie's England as defence coach

by AFP

Former New Zealand head coach John Mitchell is to take charge of England's defence after the Rugby Football Union paid South African province Blue Bulls a reported £200,000 ($260,000) in compensation.

The 54-year-old -- who guided the All Blacks to the 2003 World Cup semi-finals where they lost to hosts and bitter rivals Australia -- fills the vacuum left by Paul Gustard, who took over at Premiership side Harlequins after England's tour of South Africa in June. 

Mitchell is no stranger to English rugby. He coached the England forwards under Clive Woodward in the late 1990s and had two spells with Sale -- as head coach and then as director of rugby -- and was an assistant coach with Wasps. 

"I will use all my experience and focus to bring the necessary clarity and confidence to the players from a defensive perspective," said Mitchell, who was executive of rugby at the Bulls.

Jones said Mitchell would be an asset to England.

“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.”

Mitchell was the inaugural coach of the Western Force but left in controversial circumstances, with reports of a player revolt. Mitchell's reputation as abrasive saw the same scenario unfold at the Lions in Johannesburg in 2012.

Mitchell will have to hit the ground running as England face a tough series of Tests in November and head coach Eddie Jones is under pressure to turn results around after a poor year so far. 

Scott Wisemantel will continue his role as attack coach, after working with England on the tour of South Africa.

The 48-year-old Australian was recently backs coach for Top 14 club Montpellier and worked with Jones when he was head coach of Japan at the 2015 World Cup.