England wants Mitchell to report for duty by next month.
England coach Eddie Jones is looking for a new defence coach, after Paul Gustard left for Harlequins – following the June Test series against the Springboks.
While the Rugby Football Union has remained mum on reports that Mitchell – the Blue Bulls’ Executive of Rugby – will replace Gustard, the BBC has confirmed that ‘interest has been shown’ in the New Zealander’s services.
Mitchell is under contract to the Bulls till October next year, but the RFU would be prepared to pay a massive ‘buy-out fee’ to the BBC.
Rugby365 have now revealed that calls have already gone out to the agents of some of South Africa’s leading coaches.
A source close to the Pretoria-based franchise told Rugby365 that those calls would not have gone out if Mitchell was not departing.
The BBCo would like to confirm that John Mitchell informed us that interest was shown in his services, no formal offer has however been received. The BBCo would furthermore like to confirm that John Mitchell’s contract with the BB Co expires on the 31 October 2019. pic.twitter.com/Agma8BySQN
— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) August 2, 2018
The leading candidates – or at least the names at the top of the Bulls’ wishlist – include Springbok legends Fourie du Preez and Victor Matfield, both World Cup winners and long-time Bulls servants.
Other names on the ‘wanted’ list include Jimmy Stonehouse and John Dobson.
Stonehouse has close links with the Bulls – from his days as a teacher at Hoërskool Waterkloof, the Bulls Cravenweek team and Pretoria Harlequins. He has just returned from a three-year stint at the Brave Lupus in Japan.
Dobson, a born-and-bred Capetonian, is coach of the defending champion Western Province Currie Cup team.
Stonehouse, if anybody is to overtake Matfield and Du Preez in the pecking order, would be the most likely candidate.
The BBC, while confirming that interest was shown in Mitchell’s services, said no formal offer has been received from the RFU.
Mitchell has an extensive coaching resume – starting with Fraser Tech in New Zealand in 1994 and includes Ireland (forwards coach), Sale Sharks, England (forwards coach), London Wasps, Waikato B, Chiefs, New Zealand (All Blacks), Waikato, Western Force, Lions, United States and Bulls.
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