England have lost another member of their coaching staff after Eddie Jones’ number two John Mitchell agreed to join Wasps for next season.
Only in February Mitchell signed a new contract taking him through to the 2023 World Cup but the Kiwi has become the latest departure after agreeing to become an assistant-coach at the Ricoh Arena.
It continues the high turnover rate of Jones’ tracksuit lieutenants with Matt Proudfoot, who oversees the forwards, the only man still in his post.
Simon Amor departed as skills coach following England’s dismal fifth-place finish in the Six Nations while Australia-based Jason Ryles’ brief tenure as skills coach ended because of travel complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Now Mitchell has also gone just over two years out from the next World Cup, placing a significant dent in England’s preparations for France 2023.
The 57-year-old former All Blacks boss was a popular figure among players who valued his occasionally-unorthodox approach to coaching the defence and it is unlikely that Jones be will able to recruit anyone of his stature.
“I’d like to thank John for his hard work and dedication over the last four years, he will go with the best wishes from everyone in the England team. I am sure he will do a great job in his new role at Wasps,” Jones said.
In a brief statement, the Rugby Football Union said that it is in “the process of finalising a contract for a new England attack coach and the recruitment process for the defence coach role is well underway”.
“We are thrilled to add John to the coaching group for this season. He brings a wealth of knowledge and will only improve our playing department,” Wasps boss Lee Blackett said.
“Once we knew John was available, we prioritised getting him back to Wasps.
“Finding somebody of John’s calibre at both an international and domestic level is rare. He fits the profile we have been looking for, adding to our talented group of coaches.
“John’s primary role will be to lead the attack, but his breadth of top-level experience will see him assist on a number of levels.
“He understands Wasps having worked here before and his passion for the club and improving our players shone through from the start.
“The support from the board in making this happen demonstrates the ambition of this club.”