Vodacom Super Rugby
Sharks' board backs Smit
Durban - Incoming CEO John Smit has the full backing of the Sharks' rugby board on his decision not to renew the contract of coach John Plumtree.
"John enjoys the unanimous support of the entire board," its chairman Stephen Saad said in a statement on Friday.
Smit, who has been appointed as the union's new CEO, said on Tuesday it was time for a change because the union needed "fresh, new ideas".
He was widely criticised for the decision, particularly as his tenure at the Sharks officially begins only on July 1.
Incumbent CEO Brian van Zyl Plumtree-to-stay-20130613">was reported to have said he wanted the New Zealander to remain at the helm for at least two more years.
"I want to make it very clear that I feel John [Plumtree] should have received another contract as coach for two years," Van Zyl told Beeld's website on Thursday.
"I believe he did a fantastic job at this union, and he deserves a chance as coach for at least two more years."
Plumtree guided the Sharks to two Currie Cup titles and a Super Rugby final.
Saad said the reasons behind Smit's decision to dump the coach in favour of Brendan Venter -- a former employer of Smit's during his playing days at the English club, Saracens -- were not malicious.
"John Plumtree, who has served The Sharks with both loyalty and much success and, not withstanding that he has a contract until the end of 2013, he needed certainty on his future beyond that," Saad said.
"He informed The Sharks that he had been approached with other options to consider and personal issues, namely schooling, that needed addressing."
Saad said it would have been easier for Smit to take the path of least resistance and to delay his decision, but he had instead grasped the nettle and not opted for the expedient approach.
Smit's announcement was also in part accelerated by comments attributed to ex-Springbok coach Nick Mallett.
At the weekend, it was reported that Mallett had been approached to take over the coaching role.
Former Bok centre Venter, who is currently involved with the Junior Springboks at the Under-20 World Cup in France, will take over as director of rugby at the Sharks, and will begin coaching the Currie Cup side for the competition, which begins in August.
"John Smit has a vision on how he wants to run the Sharks and the board cannot ask him, as CEO, to take accountability and then choose his team for him," Saad said.
"He has had the benefit of playing under both coaches and rates them both highly. He has made his choice and I can only ask Shark supporters to get behind him and the team as our season unfolds."