Former All Blacks coach John Mitchell says he has been found not guilty of charges of misconduct by the Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU) and is demanding to be reinstated as head coach of the South African side.
A statement released by Mitchell’s management group expressed anger that the 48-year-old was still suspended by the GLRU even though it had withdrawn six of the charges levelled against him.
Mitchell was suspended at the end of June after Lions players lodged a list of grievances with the GLRU.The GLRU will not be drawn on Mitchell’s claims, confirming only that an independent chairperson, Peter Bam, had concluded the internal disciplinary hearing.
It said the findings and recommendations would remain confidential until discussions had been held with Mitchell, prompting a heated response.
‘‘That’s pretty amazing considering the damage that this action taken by the GLRU has done to John’s reputation and brand,’’ a statement from The Fordham Company said.
‘‘One would have to question why this information is being withheld.’’
Mitchell’s lawyers had threatened an application to the Labour Court to secure full disclosure of the findings.
Mitchell signed a three-year deal with the GLRU after leaving Australia’s Western Force franchise in 2010.
He led the Lions to their first domestic Currie Cup title for more than a decade last year but oversaw a Super Rugby campaign this year in which the Lions finished last and were replaced in next year’s competition by the newly-formed Southern Kings franchise.
Forwards coach Johan Ackermann coached the Currie Cup team to last month’s semi-finals while a suspended Mitchell took up a consultancy role at his former English club Sale.
‘‘I want my head coach position back at the Lions,’’ Mitchell said.
‘‘There is some unfinished business to do with the Lions. Furthermore, I am determined that my future will be in South Africa.’’