It was a very good Monday for former Bulls and Lions coach John Mitchell.
Early in the day his son Daryl had his first practice session with the Blacks Caps squad for the T20 cricket series against touring India ‒ and then the plaudits rained down from the English press who lauded the former All Blacks head coach for his role in England’s surprising win against Six Nations favourites Ireland on Saturday.
Mitchell, and an All Black himself who did the job under Clive Woodward who was the head coach when they won the World Cup in 2003, is again the country’s defence coach ‒ this time under Eddie Jones.
Newspaper headlines in the English press hailed Mitchell’s contribution and stated that the money spent to procure his services was indeed money well spent by the RFU.
Sir Clive Woodward wrote in his regular Daily Mail column that "Ireland had no answer and it has been a while since we have said that.
"So hats off to Eddie, after a poor 2018, and his defensive coach John Mitchell, to go and win in a place where the All Blacks got seen off in the autumn series."
Mitchell left his post as director of rugby at the Bulls in South Africa to work with England late last year.
♦ Mitchell is reportedly earning $560,000 and the Rugby Football Union (RFU) had to pay the Bulls $380,000 compensation to let Mitchell go before completion of his contract. The Daily Star wrote that Mitchell has already delivered a top return on investment and refer to Mitchell as "England's secret weapon for the Six Nations and World Cup.”
"Kiwi John Mitchell was appointed at great expense to become Eddie Jones's defence coach.
"But Mitchell has paid back the RFU already in the wake of England's stunning thumping of Ireland in Dublin.
"Mitchell orchestrated a white wall that nullified what was the most potent attacking force in European rugby in 2018.
"The win was quite a statement and if Mitchell and Jones continue to work magic like this, England are serious contenders to become world champions again."
♦ Paul Rees of The Guardian, said the "Twickenham bean-counters who had to fork out to release Mitchell from his Bulls contract, wondered why their head coach was keen on someone with whom he had never worked".
"Saturday showed why, as England won the battle of the gainline: Mako Vunipola and Mark Wilson led the tackle count, but the way Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje and Billy Vunipola picked off the runners coming round the corner was key in making Ireland play behind the advantage line, slowing down their possession and forcing them to kick on the back foot.
"The looseness that afflicted England last year was nowhere."
♦ Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said after the game that Mitchell had "stirred up" England, who "responded incredibly well".
♦ Mitchell also received praise from Bulls coach Pote Huma who said he was not concerned about his side’s loss by 28-33 to the Stormers in Sunday’s Superhero Sunday clash in Cape Town.
“We played very well, [I] feel they [Stormers] capitalised on our mistakes.” Human told reporters at the Cape Town Stadium after the match.
“These are exciting times for us.
“We want to play an expansive brand of rugby and we showed we are on the right path.”
Human believes that Mitchell’s 2018 blueprint is a vital building block for a successful 2019 season.
“[Mitchell] laid the foundation last year and I’m very happy to keep building on that,”
“There will be a few tweaks here and there with Chris [Rossouw] coming in but we are heading in the right direction and it is the time to produce.”