Sponsor: Nike Rugby Camps

Sponsor: Infinity Park

Thursday, May 25, 2017

(Updated) John Mitchell To Leave The Eagles After World Cup Qualifying


The Eagles are going to be looking for a new coach just two years out from the World Cup. Current head coach John Mitchell is set to take over the Bulls in Super Rugby following the summer series according to a report SA Rugby Magazine. Mitchell has previous coaching experience in Super Rugby having been in charge of the Western Force and the Lions. He has been living in South Africa and has been commuting to the U.S. for camps and matches, a less than ideal situation. This way he will be able to stay closer to his family. In total he will have been in charge of the Eagles for roughly a year and a half taking them through two ARCs, two summers (including the upcoming summer) and one fall series.

Mitchell leaving puts the Eagles in a bind, especially if they don't beat Canada in World Cup qualifying this summer. If the U.S. lose to Canada that would mean a new coach would have little preparation time to get the team ready to take on Uruguay later in 2018. Additionally, the new coach would have little time implementing his style of play. That's not necessarily a bad thing as the Eagles have played some good rugby under Mitchell and have made a lot of gains but it's difficult for a coach to be effective using another coach's system.

Take the jump to read more.

It also asks the question who is capable of taking over? It seems unlikely that they will go with former head coach Mike Tolkin even though he's taken a team to the World Cup before. It's also unlikely they are going to spend the money needed to bring in a bigger name coach like they did with Mitchell. It's no secret that U.S.A. Rugby is suffering money problems and they can't afford a big name coach.

The most likely scenario is that the Eagles go with someone based in the United States. They've brought on former All-American coach Scott Lawrence for the summer which could be an indication that he is set to be a part of the team going forward. They could also ask Mike Friday to do more even though he already helps out the 15s team. There are some top college and club coaches but asking them to take the jump to a professional environment could be tough. That said PRO Rugby did produce five full-time coaches. Additionally, at this point in the World Cup cycle it's not like there are a lot of internationally experienced coaches available.

In the end this is going to be a big test for Dan Payne as CEO of U.S.A. Rugby. He needs to not only keep the team together to beat Canada in World Cup qualifying knowing that their coach isn't sticking around but he also needs to find a replacement that can keep the Eagles playing well.

UPDATE: U.S.A. Rugby has confirmed Mitchell's departure and provided the following quotes:

"I was brought in by previous USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville for my expertise on creating a winning approach to the modern game," Mitchell said. "He felt that the development of the game within the USA would benefit tremendously if the men's XVs side was highly competitive. This is what I have achieved.

"I would like to thank USA Rugby, World Rugby, and all the players and staff that I have been associated with on my watch. It has been a huge privilege to play a major part in USA Eagles history and be associated with the development of young American men living a dream playing and coaching for their country and developing a sustainable High Performance model that someone else can now lead and evolve."

"It's a nice feeling to know that the current USA Eagles squad is now not so dependent upon just overseas players and that our domestic players are taking on the challenge and performing above the required standards set and creating healthy competition amongst the athletes," Mitchell said.

"I am a professional and I expect others around me to respect this while in this transition. My eyes will be on the plan for every minute as we cannot waste one of them to ensure we present ourselves the opportunity of making a lot of people happy."


12 comments:

  1. They should bring in Paule Barford to take over he did wonders in that one season with Ohio!

    ReplyDelete
  2. For God's sake, lock down Mike Friday and turn the 15s program over to him as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uh...he's under contract for the same terms as Mitchell. $250k and doesn't live full time in the US.

      Delete
  3. The hiring of Scott Lawrence last week was a big indicator that this was in the works. He seems the logical replacement. Mitch sees the writing on the wall - a triumvirate of Eddie Jones, Steve Hanson and Wayne Smith would still get destroyed by England, France, Argentina, Samoa so he is getting out while the getting is good.

    Dan Payne knows the big picture, until the Eagles can field a team ENTIRELY made up of players that started playing rugby at age 10 (at the latest, they start in NZ at 5) then the US will remain a rugby backwater at the International level. 2019 is over, 2023 we might win a game, 2027 we have a chance at the quarters.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A bit too dour, I think. Some of the star USA players likely started that young, others started later but were already phenomenal athletes and now ply (or did ply) their trade at some of the highest levels: Dan Lyle, Perry Baker, Blaine Scully, Taufete...Hell even Manoa didn't pick up the game until he was 13 (practically high school). It has been and continues to be more about finding the diamonds in the rough and getting them into a week-in, week-out professional environment where they can blossom into phenomenal players.

      Delete
    2. 13 could be considered practically elementary school as you are only one year removed...

      Delete
    3. Except for the fact that 6-8 is junior high most places in the US

      Delete
  4. I have to think Scott Lawrence is the answer at the moment. Maybe we can snag a big name hire post 2019.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Please, God, don't go back to Tolkin again.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Scrap or greatly scale down the Eagles program for 5-10 years as they should have done 20 to 30 years ago, and put every resource into youth development.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Scott Lawrence is not the answer. He doesn't have the pedigree required to lead the Eagles or the experience. Coaching U20s is cool, but it is not the experience required to lead our national side. We saw what happened the last time we went cheap.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I suggest Aaron Mauger the former Head Coach of the Leicester Tigers. He played for Mitchell as an All Black under his system and would maintain the same style of "attacking play" and player
    development. He might take the job if asked and maintain the high level of play. He is a World Cup veteran and Mitchell would approve. Marty Veale or Phil Greening interested as head coach or are they leaving with Mitchell?

    ReplyDelete