Mitchell to coach US Eagles

Former All Blacks coach John Mitchell has signed a four-year contract to guide the United States through to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Mitchell replaces Mike Tolkin as Eagles head coach after the US lost all four Rugby World Cup pool matches in England last year, beaten by Scotland, Samoa and Japan.

“I’m excited about putting my strengths into play and building on the solid work laid down in the last World Cup cycle,” he said in a statement.

“I see this as a wonderful opportunity to play a key part in inspiring, mentoring, creating confidence and stability in transforming USA rugby into a strong, globally competitive unit by the end of 2019.”

A former No.8 who played six matches for New Zealand in 1993, Mitchell coached the All Blacks between 2001 and 2003, guiding them through to the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup where they were beaten 22-10 by Australia.

He was also an assistant coach to Clive Woodward with England until 2000, and has coached Super Rugby teams the Chiefs, Western Force and the Lions.

Mitchell was linked with the Stormers late last year, but the appointment fell through amid reports that Stormers players were reluctant to have Mitchell as their head coach.

Mitchell has previously worked with USA Rugby chief executive Nigel Melville during his time at English club Wasps.

“Knowing his level of experience and knowledge in all aspects of the game, I am confident in my decision to take on this role,” Mitchell said.

“I know I will have the necessary support and stability a head coach requires.”

Melville said Mitchell would bring real value to the Eagles long-term programme, and would work closely with US domestic elite coaches and age grade teams.

“John is an outstanding coach with experience at all levels of the game who will develop a strong team culture, focus on the basics of the game and bring fresh ideas where they are most needed.”

Mitchell’s first match will be against world No.5 Argentina in the inaugural Americas Rugby Championship in Houston, Texas, on February 6.

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