7 Apr

A Head Of His Time
by Paul Waite
7 Apr 2004

As a brace of “personal assistants” dressed in filmy dance-of-the seven-veils type gears gently buffed his shiny cranium, former All Black coach John Mitchell expounded on his failed tenure during a recent visit to the Northern Climes.

The interview is reproduced here, with suitable editorial comment artfully sprinkled about the place, to inform the reader and generally bring light and understanding where the shadow of doubt might otherwise lie. The reader is reminded that this is otherwise known as “semi-humorous bollocks” and shouldn’t to be taken seriously unless you’ve just inhaled a copious amount of a certain controlled substance, in which case everything might appear to be serious, even the record of the All Blacks over the past six years.

John Mitchell believes he was ahead of his time as All Black coach and says the New Zealand rugby public are still ignorant of what it takes to be successful in the international game.

Ed: Right Mitch, we’re dead bloody ignorant. So ignorant we didn’t realise what a clueless fucking gameplan you were going to go to the World Cup with last year, because if we had, we would’ve been watching the beach volleyball instead.

Mitchell, in England for a two-week “working holiday”, told The Daily Telegraph that the New Zealand Rugby Union and supporters in New Zealand were wrong to constantly expect immediate results.

Ed: Ah yes, that would be the “immediate” as in “since 1997″ wouldn’t it. I suppose one discredited ex-coach’s definition of “immediate” is another fan’s definition of FUCKING LONG ENOUGH FOR HELL TO FREEZE OVER!!

That, he said, led to him losing his job late last year after the All Blacks’ World Cup campaign was halted by Australia in the semifinals. He had previously built up an impressive winning record with the team.

“I don’t think that New Zealanders, the union and the public understand what it takes to be a professional international side,” Mitchell said.

Ed: Yes they do John. It takes good players, which we’ve got, and it takes a good coach. Without both those, alas, they do things like losing World Cup semi-finals.

“They are all still in a hurry, looking for an immediate outcome.

Ed: Ah yes, that would be the “immediate” as in ….

“They also tend to look backwards too much. And even though I played all my rugby in New Zealand, the vast bulk of my coaching methodology comes from up here. “Perhaps I was a bit ahead of my time for them in some areas. I always knew that if we missed out on the Webb Ellis Cup then my future was in doubt.”

Ed: That’s Nostrodamus-like John, who would’ve predicted that? Perhaps this astonishingly paranormal ability to foresee the future is tied in with that weird business about being “ahead of your time” eh?

Mitchell said he found it strange his successor, Graham Henry, had only been offered a two-year contract.

Ed: Well, contracts can be renewed. So the way it works is if you stuff up, like, say, LOSING THE ONLY THING YOU WERE EMPLOYED TO WIN, then it isn’t renewed. If you win it, then it is.

“New Zealanders need to understand that progression doesn’t come in large lumps, that professionalism has seen an equalisation at the top end and that it takes time to improve.”

Ed: Ah, this is where the ignorant New Zealand rugby fan might baulk, and be guilty of doing too much of that “looking backwards” as you call it, and remember that it isn’t “improvement” we need, it’s a regaining of the strengths that we had pre-1997, and an attention to the basic skills and tenets of the game. That was your job, John, but you didn’t do it, did you?

England were mentally tougher than any other team at the World Cup, Mitchell said, and the closeness of the score in the final against Australia did them an injustice.

Ed: There he is, holding forth to an English daily newspaper, a striking figure with a Sun-browned bonce, and a nose to match.

New Zealand’s leading forwards still suffered from the expansive nature of the Super 12, which had “undone a lot of our fabric” but he said there would still be massive expectations on the All Blacks to beat England in the two home tests in June.

Ed: Er, steady on! That stuff about the Super 12 is the ONLY piece of sense and truth we’ve read in this whole bloody article, and frankly we find it a bit unnerving at this late stage.

“There’s probably still the New Zealand arrogance and ignorance of the way football’s developed round the world and so they’ll be looking for victory.”

Ed: Yes we’ll probably be “looking for victory”. Strange that, isn’t it? We should have beaten the eventual World Cup winners last season in June (if it wasn’t for some dickhead coach picking Spencer to kick), we’re at home again, with a coaching team that *does* know it’s arse from it’s kicking tee, and we stupidly “look for victory”. Ridiculous.

Mitchell has signed a three-year contract with Waikato, with the option of another two.

Ed: Two what? Women? “Personal Assistants”? Blowjobs as in the Clinton “I did not have sex with THAT woman?”…. and if so – why ONLY two??

He put a new slant on the reason for his dismissal, believing he paid for refusing to get drawn into the pre-World Cup row over bonus payments for his players.

Ed: Fuck! Where did that one come from, Mars?

A former assistant coach to Clive Woodward with England, Mitchell said he hadn’t ruled out returning to the All Blacks post, while coaching England was also not out of the question.

Ed: That’s right, keep your options open, keep fielding the phonecalls and polishing that head.

“I admire England enormously and you could never rule out that eventuality if it were ever to be offered,” he said.

Ed: Well you just ruled that one out, I guess.

“And that applies to the All Blacks as well. But it would take a big decision to return to that.

Ed: Yes, as a rough comparison, it would take something like a decision by Yasser Arafat to offer complete unilateral peace to Israel and to suck Ariel Sharon’s woody live on TV whilst signing the documents.

Paul Waite

Paul Waite

Haka editor-in-chief. Please do not feed.

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