UKZN’s?All Black man

2013-09-04 00:00

FORMER All Black head coach John Mitchell has been appointed as the head of rugby at UKZN Rugby Club.

UKZN officials would not be drawn on Mitchell’s appointment, but said that a statement would be released late yesterday confirming Mitchell’s appointment. The statement had not been received at the time of going to press.

Reports first surfaced a month ago that Mitchell was to be appointed and, in response to a question from The Witness, the UKZN’s executive director of Student Services, Dr Sibusiso Chalufu, confirmed that a high-profile coach had been approached.

“The university is exploring the appointment of a highly experienced and qualified rugby coach to strengthen and further develop the UKZN rugby team. The university will formally announce the appointment of the selected coach in due course.”

Earlier this year, the university advertised for the position of head of rugby at the University of KZN.

The job description entailed the successful applicant directing the entire operation of the UKZN Rugby Club in all its facets, from spearheading the UKZN Impi’s 2014 Varsity Shield campaign, to coaching the relevant university team coaches at senior and U20 level, through to managing the conditioning and medical support for rugby on the campuses of the university in Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

Mitchell’s vast and varied experience at the top level of the game would be a massive boost to UKZN Rugby and would raise the profile of student rugby considerably.

Mitchell is one of the world’s foremost coaches and was recently in charge of the Golden Lions, winners of the Currie Cup two years ago. He is currently a rugby commentator on SuperSport.

In a long and distinguished playing career, Mitchell represented the All Blacks on six occasions, three of them as captain on New Zealand’s tour of Great Britain in 1993.

He also captained New Zealand provincial side Waikato to the Ranfurly Shield title in 1992, and to the National Championship the year after. As a player he is widely regarded as one of the legends of Waikato rugby.

He was forwards coach of England under Clive Woodward in the late 1990s, which included a Six Nations crown and the defeat of the Springboks that prevented South Africa from breaking the world record of successive Test victories.

As head coach of the All Blacks, Mitchell’s side took the Bledisloe Cup away from Australia in 2000.

He won successive Tri-Nations as well as the bronze medal at the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

His win rate as All Blacks coach was 86%, and he is one of three New Zealanders to have both captained and coached the All Blacks.

It is understood that Mitchell has already started work at UKZN, but repeated attempts to contact him yesterday proved fruitless.

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