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Mitchell signposted his shock England exit six months ago

By Chris Jones
John Mitchell /Getty

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Former All Blacks coach John Mitchell has dealt Eddie Jones a major body blow by quitting as England defence coach to return to Wasps.


RugbyPass can reveal that Mitchell, who joined England in 2018, gave six months notice having grown disillusioned with his role under Jones who took heavy flak after England, the beaten 2019 World Cup finalists finished fifth in the most recent Six Nations championship.

Mitchell, who was previously in charge of the USA, was the most experienced member of Jones’s depleted coaching team which now comprises just Matt Proudfoot, the ex-Springboks forwards coach.

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It leaves Jones to explain why Mitchell has joined a long list of quality coaches who have decided they no longer want to work under what is seen as a demanding and limiting regime. There is a belief that Jones’s insistence that there is his way or the highway is a major contributing factor the high turnover of staff.

It includes the other World Cup 2019 coaches, Steve Borthwick, now Leicester director of rugby, Neal Hatley who joined Bath and Scott Wisemantel who left the attack coach role to take up the same position with Australia

In May, England attack coach Simon Amor stepped down after 16 months in the role while skills coach Jason Ryles also left the set-up. Ryles was due to arrive for the 2021 Six Nations but did not travel from Australia because of Covid-19 concerns.

For England’s summer fixtures against the United States and Canada, Jones only had two senior assistant coaches Mitchell and forwards coach Proudfoot.


Wasps announced the capture of Mitchell today in as statement with head coach Lee Blackett saying: “We are thrilled to add John to the coaching group for this season. He brings a wealth of knowledge and will only improve our playing department.

“Once we knew John was available, we prioritised getting him back to Wasps.

“Finding somebody of John’s calibre at both an international and domestic level is rare. He fits the profile we have been looking for, adding to our talented group of coaches.

“John’s primary role will be to lead the attack, but his breadth of top-level experience will see him assist on a number of levels. He understands Wasps having worked here before and his passion for the club and improving our players shone through from the start.


“The support from the board in making this happen demonstrates the ambition of this club.”

Speaking about Mitchell’s exit, Jones said in an RFU statement: “I’d like to thank John for his hard work and dedication over the last four years, he will go with the best wishes from everyone in the England team. I am sure he will do a great job in his new role at Wasps.”


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