Bulls appoint John Mitchell as new coach

John Mitchell David Rogers/Getty Images

The Bulls have appointed John Mitchell as their Executive of Rugby, handing him the reins of their ailing Super Rugby side in the place of outgoing coach Nollis Marais.

Mitchell takes over a side that has won just three of their 11 Super Rugby matches this season and while they are still in with a slender mathematical chance of making the quarterfinals, the move is more with an eye on 2018.

Marais will continue as coach of the Blue Bulls' Currie Cup side.

"I enjoy challenges and this surely is a serious challenge, but one that excites me tremendously," Mitchell said in a statement from the Blue Bulls Rugby Union on Thursday.

"I have coached against the Bulls and the Springboks many times before. They have a rich history of success, tradition and a legacy that surely surpasses most within SA Rugby and perhaps even world rugby.

"I am well aware of the responsibilities that come with this job, but I am also excited about the opportunities and the talented players at the Bulls."

Mitchell has experience of coaching in South Africa before with the Golden Lions Rugby Union, and also spent four years with the Western Force in Super Rugby.

He was suspended by the Lions in 2012 over allegations of 'misconduct', but denied the charges, which were later dropped.

The former loose-forward also coached New Zealand between 2001 and 2003, and was most recently with the United States national team.

Barend van Graan, CEO of the Blue Bulls, says the appointment is part of their turnaround strategy at the union

"We are working hard to ensure sustainable and long term success for the Bulls. As part of the process, we have now appointed the best candidate to take over the reins at the Bulls," he said.

"We are also continuing with the rest of the process, to listen to people whose insights will help our turnaround succeed. We are working towards achieving success as a team on every front, to grow our supporter base and to earn trust in our brand.

"I said from the start that this would be a thorough process. We looked at options both internally and externally, and had various other discussions and forums to ensure we would identify the correct candidates.

"The signing of a coach with the magnitude and experience of Mitchell is a massive coup for us, as his coaching credentials and achievements speak for themselves.

"I'm sure John will be able to add immensely in terms of our goals to win trophies and more importantly to help the continued development of our coaches and players."