Mitchell suspension not only player-driven
Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU) president Kevin de Klerk on Thursday denied that the suspension of coach John Mitchell was based purely on players’ complaints.
“It is inaccurate to say it is a player-driven thing and I would like us to move away from that,” De Klerk told reporters in Johannesburg.
“It was inclusive of a number of processes and it wasn’t necessarily the players on their own, and that is the way the position stands.”
News reports last week stated that Mitchell was suspended due to players lodging a “list of grievances” with the GLRU.
De Klerk said he could not divulge details of the allegations levelled against Mitchell.
“We are not at liberty to disclose that information and I think you would also have empathy with the Lions’ situation in terms of the subjudice nature of the case,” he said.
“We cannot divulge information around that action obviously, for presenting John (Mitchell) with the opportunity to defend [himself against] the allegations, and without exposing ourselves as the Lions to certain further actions against us.”
He denied that captain Joshua Strauss led the reported player revolt against the coach.
“This is still subjudice and we can’t say that Josh led that process towards that, and it is inaccurate to say that,” he said.
“There are a number of issues that we are addressing that involve the suspension.”
De Klerk said he could not give a deadline for the process to be finalised, but they would deal with it expeditiously.
“It could take a week, it could take two weeks,” De Klerk said.
“We would seek to obviously wrap the thing up as quickly as possible but you know, how long is a piece of string with these type of actions? We are hopeful that we will have a quick resolution to it.”
Mitchell last season led the Lions to their first Currie Cup title since 1999, but the outfit has managed just two wins in the Super Rugby competition this year. They languish in 14th position on the log. They also lie bottom of the South African conference log and will not be able to improve their placing with just three games remaining.
In the interim Mitchell has been replaced by assistant coach Johan Ackermann, who had a tough time fielding a barrage of questions from the media on Thursday.
Ackermann said he would only focus on preparing the team for their next Super Rugby match against the Stormers on Saturday and he did not want any part in the matter between the GLRU and Mitchell.
“I had a good relationship with John and I’ve learnt a lot from John, so I can’t fault that,” said Ackermann.
“My passion is just rugby, and with what is happening between John and the Union, I’m not involved with that. I just want to prepare the side as well as I can.
“I am still the assistant coach in my eyes and I want to do as good a job as I can and let it go its way.”