Red Roses: John Mitchell named new head coach in a ‘formidable coaching team’

Jared Wright
john mitchell red roses sarah hunter england coach

John Mitchell will take over the England Women’s head coach role from Simon Middleton, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) has confirmed.

Mitchell worked as an assistant to former England men’s head coach Eddie Jones between 2018 and 2021.

He will return to England after the 2023 Rugby World Cup, where he is currently defence coach for Japan.

Contesting for 2025 Rugby World Cup

The RFU also confirmed that forwards coach Louis Deacon will continue in his role and will lead the team until Mitchell joins.

“The Red Roses have set an incredible standard and foundation for women’s rugby, being the most successful team in the Six Nations, which is a tremendous achievement, and we now have the opportunity to build on this, mature in key areas and become a truly champion side that can rightfully contest for the World Cup in 2025,” Mitchell said on the announcement of his appointment.

“I would like to honour the hugely supportive Red Roses fans with successful performances as we work towards winning and selling out Twickenham Stadium for the Rugby World Cup in 2025.”

There are further changes to the coaching staff as Charlie Hayter will move into a more embedded role as the head of women’s performance. 

Sarah Hunter joins the coaching ticket

Following her retirement from professional rugby, former Red Roses captain, Sarah Hunter, has been appointed to the role of transition coach to work with both the senior women’s team and pathway programme, with a focus on forwards, breakdown and defensive systems.

Finally, former Wasps and Saracens player Lou Meadows has been promoted from her role as U20s head coach to attack coach for the women’s senior team. The former teacher and development officer with the RFU, Meadows was the first-ever female head coach of an England men’s aspirational side when she coached England Counties U20s.

“We are thrilled to be welcoming John back to England Rugby together with Louis, Charlie, Sarah and Lou. This will be a formidable coaching team to take the Red Roses to the next stage in their development,” executive director of performance rugby Conor O’Shea said.

“With our most recent TikTok Six Nations Grand Slam win and setting a global record crowd, a high bar has been set. I’m confident that this extensively experienced coaching team will be equally challenging and supportive of the team in the next stage of their development.”

John Mitchell’s coaching career

Mitchell has almost three decades of international experience.

After playing over 130 provincial matches for Waikato, he began his coaching career at Fraser Tech in New Zealand.

He held roles with Ireland, Sale Sharks, England and London Wasps before returning to New Zealand in 2000. He coached the Chiefs during the 200 Super Rugby season before being appointed as the All Blacks head coach in 2001.

The All Blacks would finish the tournament in third place, and Mitchell would take up a role with Waikato afterwards.

Since then, he has held several roles worldwide, including stints with the Western Force, Lions, United States, Bulls and Japan.

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