Cut the WS, says Mitch

CityPress - - Sport - DAN RETIEF dan.retief@city­press.co.za For­mer Golden Lions coach John Mitchell has ac­cused the Golden Lions Rugby Union of fab­ri­cat­ing charges in a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing against him be­cause it could not af­ford his salary. Ze­bra Press

In his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy re­leased this month, the for­mer All Black re­veals his side of a tu­mul­tuous ca­reer in which he left coach­ing jobs at the All Blacks, Western Force and the Golden Lions un­der a cloud.

Mitchell coached the Lions to Cur­rie Cup suc­cess in 2011 but was sus­pended the fol­low­ing sea­son pend­ing a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing over al­leged mis­con­duct.

He was ex­on­er­ated after the case went be­fore the Com­mis­sion for Con­cil­i­a­tion, Me­di­a­tion and Arbitration but soon af­ter­wards ne­go­ti­ated his exit from El­lis Park be­cause he felt the trust be­tween him, union ex­ec­u­tives and the team had bro­ken down.

In his can­did and re­veal­ing book about the life of a top-flight coach, Mitchell talks about the time he spent with the Lions. He of­fers in­sight into how the dis­as­trous eq­uity ar­range­ment with busi­ness­men Robert Gumede and Ivor Ichikowitz af­fected the play­ers, as well as how be­ing kicked out of Su­per Rugby in favour of the Kings ru­ined the Lions’ morale.

Mitchell, who be­came a vic­tim of crime dur­ing his stay in Joburg (he was at­tacked, stabbed and robbed in the town house he was stay­ing in), says claims that he used pro­fan­ity to hu­mil­i­ate and in­sult his play­ers, and that the group were dis­sat­is­fied with his meth­ods, were con­cocted to get rid of him.

“Take away the bulls**t and what it boils down to is that the Lions just never had the money to pay me – and some­one was fight­ing for his po­lit­i­cal sur­vival,” Mitchell writes.

He ac­cuses the Lions play­ers of be­ing “fat”, “lazy” and “un­punc­tual” when he first NO NON­SENSE For­mer Lions coach John Mitchell has writ­ten a tell-all book on his life as a rugby coach Mitch – The Real Story by John Mitchell and Gavin Rich took over as coach. “I have no re­grets about be­ing strong-minded. I was given the re­spon­si­bil­ity, in my po­si­tion as head coach, to get the best out of the in­di­vid­ual and to chal­lenge that in­di­vid­ual to be­come part of a suc­cess­ful team. You can’t achieve that by be­ing soft on ev­ery­one the whole time. “That just doesn’t work in a re­sults­driven business,” he says.

“But per­haps I have been a bit too tough, and maybe I am too ded­i­cated to self­ishly pur­su­ing per­for­mance out­comes.

“But then, I of­ten ask my­self the ques­tion: would soc­cer man­agers like Alex Fer­gu­son, José Mour­inho and Louis van Gaal sur­vive in rugby? My guess is that they wouldn’t. “They are all dif­fi­cult peo­ple in their own way, and I am not sure such be­hav­iour would be tol­er­ated in a rugby en­vi­ron­ment. And yet it can’t be de­nied that Fer­gu­son got re­sults in soc­cer.

“Why shouldn’t it work like that in rugby? What makes rugby play­ers more pre­cious?” he writes.

Golden Lions Rugby Union pres­i­dent Kevin de Klerk said Mitchell was “fac­tu­ally in­cor­rect in cer­tain ar­eas and se­lec­tive in oth­ers”.

He added: “He was our coach, who at the time was car­ried on our hands and given ev­ery as­sis­tance in per­form­ing his work.

“He had a tough time emotionally dur­ing his time with us and we even went as far as to pro­vide him with a life coach dur­ing this pe­riod.

“We parted ways very am­i­ca­bly and are some­what sur­prised about this at­tack on the Lions.

“The state­ments that ‘the Lions just never had the money to pay me’ and ‘some­one is fight­ing for his po­lit­i­cal sur­vival’ are fac­tu­ally un­true.

“The part­ing of our ways goes much deeper and was more painful for all of those in­volved, in­clud­ing the play­ers. There are two sides to ev­ery story,” said De Klerk.

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