How John Mitchell Cost The Lions Their Spot
August 19, 2012 in Uncategorized
The Lions have been kicked out of Super Rugby and a lot can be said about SARU blowing smoke for seven months about alternative options and proposals while all the while the decision had been made last year already to kick out the bottom team.
Would a different decision have been made if SARU made this known in January when they announced the Kings participation? Probably not, but by not being open and up front about it they have made life difficult for both the Lions and the Kings.
If they had spelt it out January the Lions would have had a clear idea of what they needed to achieve and the Kings would have been able to recruit better as their position would have been publicly assured. By blowing smoke for seven months SARU caused both franchises valuable time.
The fact that both franchises, as well as the rest of the country, were under the impression that nothing specific had been decided says a lot.
Based on the way they read the situation the Lions, and John Mitchell, made a serious tactical error.
Apart from the first game against the Cheetahs and the last few after Mitchell was suspended, the Lions played a game where they refused to kick for goal when they got penalties, even when they were behind. John Mitchell’s strategy was to go for tries even though the team struggled to score tries.
And their opponents knew this. Their opponents knew that they could infringe with impunity in their own half and not be punished provided they could stop the Lions from scoring tries because the Lions were not going to kick for goal.
Hind sight is 20/20 vision and with that hind sight:
Would John Mitchell have followed a different strategy if SARU had said in January: “The bottom SA team will fall out, no if or buts”? Probably.
Would the Lions still have ended last? Who knows.
Would the Lions still have been kicked out? Probably. I think this was on the cards since last year when SARU hoped that the Lions would go bankrupt and fade away.
So why did SARU not spell it out? Because if they did and, say, the Bulls ended last they would have had no room to manoeuvre.