By Ali Stokes
The RFU have confirmed the appointment of current Blue Bulls Head Coach John Mitchell as England's new defence coach, with Scott Wisemantel retaining his role as attack coach.
Mitchell, 54, was only released by the Bulls following a reported (Rugby Pass) release fee between £150,000 and £225,000, after months of negotiation over the fee.
The New Zealander was an England assistant coach between 1997 and 2000 under Sir Clive Woodward for 33 Tests and has coached domestically in the Premiership at both Wasps – reaching the European Cup quarter-final – and Sale Sharks.
In 2001, he was appointed head coach of the All Blacks, winning 23 of 28 Tests, including one draw, and led New Zealand to a third-place finish in the 2003 Rugby World Cup. The All Blacks also won back-to-back Tri Nations titles.
He coached the New Zealand provincial side Waikato as well as the Hamilton-based Super team the Chiefs. His coaching experience in the southern hemisphere has also seen him work at the Western Force in their inaugural season, the Lions, who were Currie Cup champions in 2011 for the first time in 12 years, and the Bulls. Last season the Bulls reached the semi-final of the Currie Cup.
Prior to his spell at the Bulls, Mitchell was head coach of the USA Eagles where he led the team to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2019 and won their first Americas Rugby Championship in 2017.
As a player, the No 8 played 134 times for Waikato over a decade, captaining the team on 86 occasions and scoring 67 tries. The Mooloos won the National Provincial Competition in 1992 and Ranfurly Shield in 1993. While uncapped for the All Blacks, he represented his country six times and captained the side three times during New Zealand’s northern hemisphere tour in 1993.
Eddie Jones, England head coach, said: “Defence is a key pillar of our game and John is an experienced coach. 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.”
John Mitchell said: “This is an exciting opportunity to work with England Rugby and support Eddie Jones as head coach. 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 first joined up with England for their tour to South Africa as an attack consultant and will continue the role during the Quilter Internationals.
Jones added: “We are really pleased to have Scott back for the Quilter Internationals as we continue to develop our attack. He did a great job with us in South Africa in June.”
The 48-year-old Australian was recently backs coach for Top 14 club Montpellier working with former South Africa coach Jake White.
As a coach, Wisemantel has been involved in two Rugby World Cups, one with Jones’ Japan in 2015 and during Samoa’s 2011 campaign in New Zealand where he worked as a specialist coach.
The former rugby league and rugby union player has coached at clubs in Japan and France and held a number of roles with the Wallabies, NSW Warratahs and Australia U19s.
As a player he spent five years at the National Rugby League side Parramatta Eels before switching codes in the early nineties to play for Eastwood Rugby Club in Sydney.
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