Plum, Smit agree immediate split

2013-06-26 00:00

SHARKS rugby was thrown into further turmoil last night when coach John Plumtree’s contract was terminated with immediate effect.

Plumtree and his legal team met with incoming Sharks CEO John Smit and board members yesterday and “mutually and amicably agreed to part ways with immediate effect”.

Plumtree spent his last hours as Sharks coach helping the squad yesterday morning as they prepared for Saturday’s Super Rugby game against the Auckland Blues at King’s Park. He and his legal team then went into a marathon meeting with Smit and Sharks board members.

The result of the meeting is that the Sharks are without a head coach and no one last night knew who would select and take charge of the team to face the Blues this weekend.

Smit recently announced that Plumtree would continue as the Sharks coach until the end of the Super Rugby competition next month before handing over to the new director of coaching Brendan Venter.

Venter is only scheduled to arrive in Durban ahead of the start of the Currie Cup season in August and it seems an open secret that Hilton College first team coach and former Sharks loose forward Brad MacLeod-Henderson will take over and Vodacom Cup coach Sean Everitt will join him on the new coaching panel.

Last night there was no clarity on whether the pair will be involved with the Super Rugby squad or whether current assistant coaches, Grant Bashford and Hugh Reece-Edwards, would step into the yawning gap left by Plumtree.

Stephen Saad, chairperson of the Sharks board, released a brief statement last night.

“We thank John [Plumtree] for his wonderful contribution to Sharks rugby over many years. He has been a loyal and faithful employee and the Sharks have benefitted greatly by his input.

“We are also grateful for the impeccable manner in which he has conducted himself during challenging times in the last while. We wish John all the best in his future endeavours,” he said.

Media inquiries were directed to board member and president of the KZN Rugby Union Graham MacKenzie, but he had “no idea” who would be coaching and selecting the Sharks team for the remainder of the Super Rugby competition.

“You will have to get that from John Smit. What I can tell you is that our meeting with Plum went very well. It was positive and amicable.”

Numerous attempts to contact Smit and Saad last night proved fruitless.

Plumtree was convinced he had a two-year verbal deal with the current Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl and members of the Sharks board.

The contract was never signed but Plumtree (and Van Zyl) assumed that an agreement was in place, though this has been disputed by Sharks board members.

The indications are, however, that Plumtree, in agreeing to stand down immediately, received a favourable settlement.

Smit starts his new job as CEO on Monday.

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