WPRFU president Theo Wakefield says he feels vindicated by his decision to block John Mitchell’s appointment as Stormers coach in late 2015.
Mitchell was WP director of rugby Gert Smal’s preferred choice to replace Eddie Jones, who left the Stormers after only a few days as head coach to join England.
However, Wakefield ensured that the WP board did not approve the New Zealander’s appointment, with Robbie Fleck taking over instead.
The WPRFU president said on SuperSport’s Phaka show that while he doesn’t normally get involved in the appointment of coaches, he felt he had to make an exception in this case.
‘That was the only time… because of the history the man [Mitchell] had. I just couldn’t see [him] at WP Rugby. We come from a very diverse province, the Western Cape. We have to transform. You bring in a foreigner… he plays the game with whoever he wants to select.’
Mitchell was appointed Bulls executive of rugby at the tail-end of last year’s Super Rugby tournament. He coached the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup and the Bulls in this year’s Super Rugby, before accepting an offer to become England’s defence coach.
Mitchell’s contract with the Bulls was only set to expire in October 2019, which saw the RFU having to reportedly pay the Bulls £200,000 (R3.9-million) in compensation.
Wakefield said Mitchell’s early exit showed he had been correct not to bring him to Cape Town.
‘After a year he goes away… and here we [would] sit, with the repair work to do. I believe in home-grown coaches, I believe in growing your own timber – Robbie Fleck is our own timber.’
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