Lions suspend Mitchell
22 Jun 2012
The Golden Lions Rugby Union has suspended coach John Mitchell with immediate effect following complaints from the players regarding his management style.
Keo.co.za understands that the players have long been frustrated at Mitchell’s man management, which often features vitriolic criticism and unusually punishing training sessions, especially after performances he deems unsatisfactory.
One such session, on Monday, was the tipping point for the players. A source described it as ‘bordering on inhumane’ while another spoke about the players’ anger at being ‘treated like children’. Both confirmed that such poor man management has been an outstanding feature of Mitchell’s reign (there was a similar player revolt at the end of Mitchell’s stint with the Western Force).
Strauss took up the players’ cause with Lions president Kevin de Klerk, who said on Friday that ‘the nature of the [players'] complaints is so serious that we have suspended him [Mitchell], pending further investigation.’
Assistant coaches Carlos Spencer and Johan Ackerman will take control of the team for their remaining Super Rugby matches.
With the Lions in a financial crisis it is unlikely that they will be able to afford to fire Mitchell. They will hope the New Zealander walks away without seeking compensation for early dismissal, or that he will be open to negotiating a fee that would suit both parties.
This latest incident simply deepens the troubles of the already embattled franchise. With the Kings guaranteed inclusion in Super Rugby in 2013, the Lions, who have won just two matches this season, face relegation.
Saru has insisted that a solution will be reached that won’t see any South African franchise relegated. However, the Cheetahs have already indicated they are not open to a merger, while Sanzar, the governing body that oversees Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship, has stressed that no additional team will be accommodated under the current format.
By Ryan Vrede