‘I’m not Eddie’: Ex-All Blacks coach’s dig at Jones in new England job

John Mitchell, the new England women’s head coach, has insisted he is “not an Eddie Jones” and is “absolutely” committed to leading England to the 2025 Rugby World Cup.

Mitchell was chosen by the Rugby Football Union in May to succeed previous Red Roses head coach Simon Middleton. Mitchell served as Japan’s defense coach at this year’s men’s World Cup in France.

He started his official job in October during the WXV competition in New Zealand, where he mostly performed a behind-the-scenes function of watching the group.

For the first time since taking on his new role, Mitchell—whose contract with the RFU is rumored to extend until the England World Cup in 2025—said he was totally committed to supporting the world’s top side as they prepare for a significant home competition.

When asked if he would be tempted to take up a higher-profile coaching role in the men’s game if the opportunity arose, Mitchell replied: “I’m not an Eddie Jones. That’s just not going to happen.”

Under previous coach Jones, Mitchell coached the England men’s team’s defense in 2018. However, he unexpectedly left the position in July 2021, a few months after agreeing to a contract extension.

The 59-year-old has consistently refuted reports that he and Jones became enraged when the Australian declined to let him see his son Daryl, a New Zealand international cricket player, play for Middlesex on a day off.

He said that witnessing the Red Roses during England’s 34-31 loss to hosts New Zealand at Eden Park in the previous year’s women’s World Cup served as inspiration for him to seek for the job.

“I always owed it to myself to lead a programme again,” he said. “This is an amazing team that has a winning mentality. That really excited me and the fact that they are the No 1 team in the world, how can we sustain that and stay above the rest?

“With the exponential development and focus on women’s sport, to me, that’s a major challenge because other teams are going to get better. We need to stay above them. That’s the part that really excites me.

“I’ve had failure and success and I’ve lived with a lot of girls in my time. I wouldn’t be here as a coach if I wasn’t prepared to learn. That’s a really good strength of mine and I’m open to learning a lot about the physiological and psychological advantages that the girls have.”

The Red Roses enjoyed a 30-game winning streak before falling short to an imperious Black Ferns outfit coached by former New Zealand head coach Wayne Smith. As the world’s top-ranked team, the Red Roses have already qualified for women’s rugby’s showpiece in 2025, which is expected to be the most-watched women’s World Cup in history.

Mitchell said he was inspired to apply for the Red Roses job after watching last year’s World Cup final

With matches being staged around the country – including Sunderland, Brighton and Bristol – Mitchell said the Red Roses had the ability to capture the hearts of a nation.

“They have an identity,” he said. “Whoever the genius was way back to call them the Red Roses I think is fantastic. They have a winning mentality. They’ve created a legacy already in terms of the number of games they’ve won.

“They’ve won World Cups before, and they’ve lost World Cups. But in saying that, within the team there are different heritages as well.”

England will be among the favourites in 2025, when they will attempt to win back the World Cup crown they last won in 2014.

Mitchell, who will be responsible for aiding in the healing of the psychological wounds caused by the Black Ferns’ two consecutive World Cup losses, expressed his excitement to lead England to the next level after seeing England’s victory at WXV.

When asked to rate the Red Roses’ current status, Mitchell responded, “We are not great.” “We are quite excellent, not outstanding. We have the chance to move one step farther, which will compel individuals to alter their perspectives.

“In that regard, they will have challenges, at least from me. I believe that we should continue working together to improve, and that everyone of us should ensure that the girls are given the opportunity to represent their communities and self to the rest of England.

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