John Mitchell is anticipated to join England's women's national rugby team when they arrive in his home country for the WXV competition, marking the Red Roses' return to New Zealand after their defeat in last year’s World Cup final at Eden Park.
Mitchell, who was appointed as Simon Middleton’s successor at the end of the Women’s Six Nations in May, but has been unable to provide input in selecting the squad for the competition due to his ongoing role as Japan’s defense coach at the Rugby World Cup.
— TikTok Women's Six Nations (@Womens6Nations) May 4, 2023
In his absence, the interim coach, Louis Deacon, and the current coaching staff, which includes former England captain Sarah Hunter, have assembled a 30-player squad for the tournament. Deacon, a former England lock, will continue to lead the team until Japan’s World Cup concludes.
Deacon told The Independent, “John is away at the World Cup with Japan, so he is concentrating on that. Once the World Cup is over, John will join us. He will come and observe and see where he will fit in. At that stage, he’ll no doubt see some things he’ll want to change and improve on. He’s a very experienced coach and we need that.”
Mitchell carries almost three decades of international coaching experience, having coached in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, the USA, Japan, and England. Mitchell had also previously worked with England's Men's team as a forwards coach between 1997 and 2000 and later as a defense coach from 2018 to 2021.
Deacon expressed the team's excitement about the upcoming WXV competition, stating, "We have selected a squad rich in experience, versatility, and talent; a squad we are excited to see take to the field in the inaugural WXV competition. We’re relishing the opportunity to go up against three of the world’s best teams in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, as well as experiencing three different cities in a fantastic rugby-loving nation."
🗣️ “It’ll be nice to put a face to all these magical words” - @megjonesltd on incoming new head coach John Mitchell joining the set up tomorrow.
A mixture of apprehension and excitement for the squad as they meet their new head coach days before starting the WXV1 tournament. pic.twitter.com/gwQDdrrDub
— Stella Mills (@stellamills__) October 18, 2023
The Red Roses will be heading to New Zealand to face Australia on 20 October and Canada a week later, with a highly-anticipated World Cup final rematch against the Black Ferns in Auckland on 4 November.
As the Red Roses' preparations for the WXV competition intensify, the clock is ticking towards the home World Cup in 2025, where England is expected to host next year's WXV1.
The Red Roses' recent Grand Slam win during the Six Nations competition has elevated them to unprecedented success. Speaking on this achievement, Mitchell said, "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."
"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. 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."