x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Mitchell to remain with Force

The former New Zealand coach John Mitchell will remain in charge of the Western Force in rugby's Super 14 tournament, team officials say.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA // The former New Zealand coach John Mitchell will remain in charge of the Western Force in rugby's Super 14 tournament, team officials said today, albeit with new management structures in place. The Force chairman Geoff Stooke said he received the results of an independent inquiry into Mitchell's behaviour and that the findings would remain confidential. In December, the Force appointed retired Supreme Court Judge Robert Anderson to investigate complaints made by both players and coaching staff against Mitchell.

Mitchell was temporarily relieved of his duties while Anderson completed his interviews. "A number of issues have been identified and consistent with the recommendations from Mr Anderson, action has, or will be taken to address these issues," Stooke said in a statement. "The issues will remain confidential and are matters for the board and management. The report has already seen Mitchell's assistant coaches conduct the majority of training sessions, as well as match and selection committees being formed. In the past, Mitchell was the main decision maker on all aspects of what the Force did on the field.

"The situation will be monitored on an ongoing basis, John Mitchell is the head coach of the ... Western Force and has a contract through to 2011 and this has not changed," added Stooke. Mitchell, 44, coached the All Blacks from October 2001 before leaving just after the 2003 World Cup in Australia, when his contract was not renewed after New Zealand lost in the semi-finals to the hosts. *AP with additional reporting from PA