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Plumtree deserved another chance

  • 13 Jun 2013

Sharks coach John Plumtree should have been given an opportunity to redeem himself in the Currie Cup, writes former Sharks and Springbok hooker JOHN ALLAN.

It was only a matter of time before rugby became a cut-throat profession like football.

Six months ago, John Plumtree was voted SA Coach of the Year and now he is set to leave the Sharks when his contract expires in October, having been caught up in the reshuffle that was always going to happen with the dawn of a new era under new CEO John Smit, KZNRU president Graham MacKenzie and chairmain of the board Steve Saad.

You do not become a bad coach in six months, so where did it go wrong for Plumtree?

Firstly, he has not achieved the results expected of a coach of his high calibre, especially with the squad that he had at the beginning of the year (the Sharks are 10th on the combined Super Rugby log). Secondly, and probably the biggest reason why he will be moving on to greener pastures, are the injuries the Sharks have suffered – he has had to use over 40 players in Super Rugby this year.

The new regime probably thought that as the broom is already sweeping clean, now is the time to make changes, although I think out of courtesy to someone who was a loyal player and coach they could have waited until the end of the year before making a decision and given Plumtree a chance to redeem himself in the Currie Cup.

Without knowing the discussions that took place between Plumtree and Smit, maybe it was a mutual decision. Maybe Plumtree needed a change. Then again, maybe he was pushed.

Whatever happened, I wish Plumtree all the best for the future and I have no doubt we will see him back in South Africa as the mastermind of an international team, giving the Boks a huge scare.

So what about the new man at the Sharks, Brendan Venter, and the new job that has been created for him, director of rugby?

I played rugby with Venter for the Boks. He was an extremely intense individual, who always put in the hard yards and was full of knowledge. He is one of the most passionate rugby people you will ever meet and will spend hours going over a game with his professional players or the local U6 club team, whoever is paying attention.

His coaching success speaks for itself especially during his time at Saracens where he was director of rugby – and coach, doctor and technical strategist! He helped to turn Saracens into the force that they are today. Smit is no fool. He worked with Venter at Saracens, which probably explains the swiftness of the decision to appoint him at the Sharks.

There is no doubt that Venter will be under pressure to deliver. The new Sharks hierarchy clearly do not take kindly to underachievement – even if there are extenuating circumstances – and it is the coach who will pay the price.

What remains a mystery to me is why he was appointed director of rugby and not head coach and why, if he is director of rugby, Plumtree could not have stayed on as head coach.

All I can say is that I am happy that I am not a coach in the modern era.

Outgoing Sharks CEO would have extended Plumtree's contract

Photos: Shaun Roy/Gallo Images/BackpagePix

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