Politics in SA rugby made Mitchell leave

John Mitchell (Gallo Images)
John Mitchell (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - New USA Rugby coach John Mitchell says personal vendettas forced him to leave South African rugby.

READ: Why Stormers snubbed Mitchell

New Zealand-born Mitchell was earlier this week named head coach of the USA Eagles for the next four years.

Mitchell, a former All Blacks, Western Force and Golden Lions coach, was recently linked with the Stormers head coaching role, but the Cape franchise eventually opted against hiring him.

The Stormers had initially appointed Eddie Jones as their head coach, but were then forced to look for a new mentor when Jones left for the England head coaching job.

The Stormers eventually appointed former backline coach Robbie Fleck as interim coach after SARU president Oregan Hoskins and Golden Lions president Kevin de Klerk reportedly told WP president Thelo Wakefield not to hire Mitchell.

Mitchell’s departures at the Force and Lions were shrouded in controversy, with stories plentiful of how unhappy team members were at his coaching and man-management methods.

“At the end of the day I've never been charged with any of the allegations,” Mitchell told New Zealand's Radio Sport.

“It's perception only. I've had to deal with a fair bit of politics in my time, but I'm going into an environment where there is stability above me.

“The Lions situation was orchestrated. I was basically cleared of all 28 allegations and clearly Oregan Hoskins and Kevin de Klerk have still got a vendetta against me here in South Africa. So, my expertise isn't warranted."

In the end, Mitchell admitted he was happy not to get the Stormers job.

“This opportunity (USA job) in many ways is probably the better of the opportunities, because the longer I was in the process of the Stormers it became very evident to me that the process saved me.”

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