John Mitchell denies Eddie Jones fallout despite resigning three months after contract extension

·3-min read
Eddie Jones and John Mitchell. - GETTY IMAGES
Eddie Jones and John Mitchell. - GETTY IMAGES

John Mitchell has denied suggestions that he fell out with England boss Eddie Jones despite resigning from his post as defence coach just three months after signing a contract extension.

Mitchell has since taken up a role as Wasps attack coach, citing a combination of family reasons and bubble fatigue for telling England head coach Jones that he was resigning in May. He strenuously denied a report that Jones had stopped him from watching his son, Daryl, play cricket on a day off.

While he claims to have retained a “very good relationship” with Jones, he admitted he had lost his enjoyment of coaching after a gruelling Six Nations campaign in which England finished fifth. “I wake up and coach every day wanting to enjoy it and wanting to be myself,” Mitchell said in his first public comments since leaving england. “That’s the most important thing to me. I woke up one day in April, having been thinking about it for a month at least, and just thought ‘At the end of the day I’ve got to make sure I live by what I value the most’. I thought ‘It’s time to make the right decision’.

“It was an easy decision actually in the end. I had a normal chat and at the end said ‘Eddie, I’m done, mate, thanks very much. You’ve now got the opportunity to find someone else. You’ve got two years to do that’. I think at 57 years of age I value things differently in my life, and just made a decision that I felt that I wanted to get out of international rugby at that point. And you're sick of the bubbles, sick of the time away from home and I wanted to look at returning to club rugby.”

Mitchell’s account of his departure is not wholly convincing. The strict Covid-19 bubble restrictions that England operated in during the Six Nations were significantly eased in the summer. Club rugby may be less intense but it would seem to be far more time consuming than internationals, although Mitchell was able to watch Daryl play in the T20 World Cup in Abu Dhabi.

Word of Mitchell’s availability soon reached Wasps who needed to replaced England-bound attack coach Martin Gleeson. Head coach Lee Blackett and club director Lawrence Dallaglio led the courting and pulled on Mitchell’s emotional connection to the team he coached in 2000. “I guess the huge persuasion in my decision to come here, after making my decision (to leave England), was the DNA of the club is very much the same as when I was here at Sudbury 21 years ago,” Mitchell said.

Whatever the emotional connection, it is hard to deny that coaching Wasps, who have lost five straight games heading into the Champions Cup clash against Munster on Sunday, is not a step down from guiding England to a World Cup final. Yet having experience the success of an unsuccessful campaign as All Blacks head coach in 2003, Mitchell says he had no qualms about walking away.

“If a gold medal was important to me and a World Cup, if that was my main priority, then maybe my decision would be different, but I value life more than just winning a World Cup,” Mitchell said. “My life has been exposed before in not winning a World Cup so I know exactly what that’s like. I’m certainly not going to put myself in that situation again.”

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