Why Stormers snubbed Mitch

John Mitchell was snubbed by the Stormers because of his 'poor people skills', according to Thelo Wakefield.

Following the departure of Eddie Jones to England, Mitchell looked set to become the next Stormers coach after being head-hunted by Western Province director of rugby Gert Smal, but the union instead named Robbie Fleck as interim coach for the 2016 Super Rugby season. 

Wakefield, president of the WPRU, told Die Burger various discussions were held with other union administrators and players where Mitchell had formerly worked, before deciding against his appointment.

'We invested a great deal in young players like Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Damian de Allende and Siya Kolisi, to name a few. And it would be wrong to put them and the team management at risk [of clashing heads with Mitchell],' said Wakefield. 

Wakefield also confirmed that while Smal held Mitchell in high regard, Rob Wagner (CEO), Sam Dude (chairman) and himself weren't at ease with the move.

'I believe in Gert's knowledge of the game and his judgement. There comes a time, however, when a request has to be turned down because of valid reasons. We have to make decisions in the best interest of Western Province rugby.'

He also hit out at criticism by the public with regard to Fleck's appointment, saying he won't let this saga cause a rift between him and Smal. 

Smal, on his part, says that he has accepted and respects the board's decision.

Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

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