In an eerie repeat of what they did to the Stormers two years ago, England are reportedly keen to poach yet another big-name coach at a South African franchise.
According to reports, Bulls director of rugby John Mitchell has been approached by Eddie Jones – the man who left the Stormers in 2016 barely weeks after his unveiling – to help him prepare the Roses for next year’s World Cup campaign in Japan.
Mitchell and his board are apparently at loggerheads over his ambitious recruitment plan for 2019, which involves a staggering R90 million budget.
That amount has raised eyebrows given persistent rumours that the Bulls’ commercial arm, the Blue Bulls Company, is flirting with bankruptcy.
The Bulls’ suits had earlier this year approved a contract extension till 2021 for the former Lions and All Blacks mentor but Mitchell has not signed on the dotted line, allegedly due to the lack of a guarantee that his plan will be rubber stamped.
Revealingly, the Bulls confirmed on their official Twitter account that contact has been made with their head honcho, who was recruited last year as part of a turnaround strategy.
“The Blue Bulls Company (BBCo) would like to confirm that John Mitchell informed us that interest was shown in his services. No formal offer has however been received,” the union wrote.
“The BBCo would furthermore like to confirm that John Mitchell’s contract expires on the 31 October 2019.”
It is understood Jones wants Mitchell to specifically assume England’s defensive coaching responsibilities.