The Golden Lions say they supported John Mitchell during a difficult time in his life and have been shocked by the former coach's attack on the union in his new book.
In Mitch – The Real Story, Mitchell says there was an orchestrated campaign run against him during Super Rugby in 2012. In an extract from the book, that was published on SARugbymag.co.za earlier this week, Mitchell talks about his strained relationship with the players, and how some of these players were all about their own survival.
SARugbymag.co.za has since given the Lions an opportunity to respond to the allegations made in the book. The union said in a statement that it was 'surprised' by some of the comments, and have gone as far to say that 'Mitchell is factually incorrect in certain areas and selective in others'.
The union also said that they helped Mitchell through some tough times. In 2010, Mitchell was stabbed twice at his Johannesburg department by an intruder. According to the Lions, Mitchell was under a lot of stress thereafter.
'He was our coach, who at the time was carried on our hands, and given every assistance in performing his work,' the statement read.
'He had a very tough time emotionally from the assault in his flat to the divorce of his wife of some 20 years. During this time, he had an on/off relationship with his girlfriend in Durban, which placed him under immense pressure.
'We even went as far as to provide him with a life coach who assisted him extensively during this period.'
Even after Mitchell left the Lions, the union felt that there were no hard feelings.
'We had parted ways very amicably and are somewhat surprised by this attack on the Lions [in the book].
'The statement that “the Lions just never had the money to pay me, and someone was fighting for his political survival” is 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.
'For the moment we are involved in great success stories around the Lions and thank John Mitchell for any part he has played in our success in the past.'
When contacted by SARugbymag.co.za, GLRU president Kevin de Klerk refused to answer questions relating to claims Mitchell had made in the book.
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