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plumtreeI was reading some Tweets this morning when I came across this article from Mark Keohane and I have to say a very well written one at that, about John Plumtree.

Now here I want to give my point of view – as I feel we all will in one form or another acknowledge (although I do not wish to add to what is already said in the article) and I feel the man has paid his dues, he has done everything that should be expected of him and more.

I went and read what other bloggers thought about the issue on that website and not surprisingly very few gave this man any credit, it matters not that he has been in this country for 20 years, it matters not that he wore the GREEN and GOLD, it matters not that his wife and children are South Africans and lastly what really seemed to matter is that he was not from a certain province and he had Kiwi blood in him.

Do I believe he is good enough to coach the Springboks? YES!

Would I have him as the present Bok coach? No, as Heyneke Meyer is the coach and should be given a fair chance like the others before him were given, but I do believe that he could have been a very good assistant to Heyneke Meyer.

However my own selfish side would not want him as Springbok coach as it would not be good for the Sharks, but how would that be fair to him? I see Plumtree as being Good enough, Professional enough, Loyal enough and South African enough to be a successful Springbok coach and I believe should have the same opportunity as any other coach in the country.

What is your view and are you are able to put aside a provincial bias?

If the Springbok coaching job was vacant right now, do you believe he should be allowed to contest to coach the Springboks?


The article below is thanks to MARK KEOHANE in Business Day Sport Monthly.

John Plumtree remains adamant that for him when it comes to rugby, South Africa is No 1, writes MARK KEOHANE in Business Day Sport Monthly.

John Plumtree’s wife is South African. His son is South African. His team of choice, as a player and coach, the Sharks, is South African. Often, Plumtree is referenced as the Sharks’ New Zealand-born coach, but he sees it differently. When it comes to rugby he’s more South African than Kiwi. In fact, he’s more Shark than anything else.

Plumtree has aspirations to coach the Springboks, as is the case with any South African coach. He identifies with South African rugby more than any other and while there will always be a proud Kiwi in Plumtree, when it comes to rugby the identification is very South African.

The jersey Plumtree prides most is a Springbok Sevens jersey, earned in 1994 when representing South Africa at the Hong Kong Sevens.

‘I reckon I must have been the first Kiwi to wear the green and gold,’ he jokes. ‘It was a surreal moment in the change room; a very special moment. A very strong Springbok Sevens team went to Hong Kong in 1994. Andre Joubert, Henry Honiball and Joost van der Westhuizen were among the stars of that team and I felt proud to be considered good enough for the squad,’ says Plumtree.

‘I grew up a Kiwi kid with dreams of playing for the All Blacks against the Springboks and here I was wearing the Springbok jersey and I felt massive pride in playing for South Africa. They were New Zealand’s traditional foe and they were the team that commanded the most respect among the older folk.

‘The greatest challenge for an All Blacks player was to beat the Springboks in South Africa and I grew up with a sense of wonder and awe at the men in green and gold. They had a mystique for me. As a young rugby player I always wanted to play in South Africa; I got the chance in 1988 and ended up staying for nearly 10 years before returning to the Sharks to coach in 2006.’

South Africa is home to Plumtree and has been for some time. Professionally, his coaching may still take him to Europe or New Zealand, but in an ideal world home is Durban, South Africa and work is in South Africa.

‘The country has given me a family, a home and a wonderful lifestyle. It has given me opportunity. South Africa has been very good to me and I’d like to think I’ve embraced the country and given as much as I can to it. I’ve been in South Africa for the best part of 20 years and love being here,’ says Plumtree.

‘My coaching took me to Wales, where you could say I did my apprenticeship with Swansea as a young coach and furthered that with four years as Wellington coach in New Zealand. But for the rest it’s all been here in Durban, as a player and as a coach. I’ve never felt I had to choose between New Zealand and South Africa; if anything I consider myself fortunate to have experience of both because of the strong rugby connection. I have enormous respect for the rugby in New Zealand and an equal feeling for the game in this country.’

Plumtree has worked with some of New Zealand’s and South Africa’s best players and says the similarities make the rivalry so intense.

‘Both have an appetite for physicality and for playing a direct game. Both want to be the best in the world and have the work ethic that goes with it. If there was a difference I’d say there’s more pressure in South Africa at schoolboy level to win because of the rivalry between the major rugby playing schools, whereas in New Zealand there is a greater focus at schoolboy level on playing good rugby. The pressure here would be to win at all costs; there the pressure would be in the skills evolution of a player at schools level.

‘Professionally, though, there isn’t much to choose and that is why there seldom is much in matches at Super Rugby and Test levels. There has been the odd blowout from the Boks and from a South African and Kiwi Super Rugby side, but generally, as a Kiwi side, you have to play bloody well to win in this country, and the same is true of any South African team wanting to win in New Zealand.’

Plumtree played 80 matches for the Sharks between 1988 and 1997, having played 40 provincial games in New Zealand prior to that, which culminated in selection for All Blacks trials in 1989. His best rugby memories are playing for the Sharks and winning two Currie Cup medals and he takes pride in the achievement of winning the Currie Cup as a player and as a coach.

‘I was part of the 1996 squad as a player and in my first season as head coach in 2008 we won the cup again for the first time since 1996. To say I have won the Currie Cup as a player and a coach is a big thing for me because it also shows just how long I have been here and it is a competition that means a hell of a lot to me. I understand the history of the competition and I know what it meant to win it as a player at the Sharks. So I will never treat it as secondary.

‘There’s Super Rugby, which we want to win and there’s the Currie Cup, which we want to win. Both have equal status. One is the premier international tournament we play in and the other is the premier domestic competition. We had a chance to complete a rare double in 2012 in winning both and fell at the last hurdle. It hurts because we got so close to something really special, but the motivation has to be that it is possible to succeed in both tournaments and the group of players this year is more experienced, more mature and equipped to certainly be successful.’

The defeat in the Currie Cup final against Western Province rankles Plumtree more than the away defeat against the Chiefs in Super Rugby because it was a final he believed his team was good enough to win.

‘It is the one area we simply have to correct as a squad. When we are looking down the barrel we somehow find an escape and a way to win but when the hard work has been done and the expectation is there that we should win we have stumbled. Western Province played very well to win the final but home finals are occasions you have to make count. We had done all the hard work, benefited from consistency in getting a home semi-final and final and then to stumble … well you pick an adjective …’

Consistency is something Plumtree feels the Sharks have lacked in Super Rugby and to win the tournament he believes a team has to start well and end well.

‘The Crusaders and Bulls in their best years showed this consistency. They won enough to get the home semi and home final and while it is a huge advantage playing at home in the final it is also reward for a consistent season,’ says Plumtree. ‘I know we were up against it last year in having to travel to Australia, back to South Africa and then to Hamilton in New Zealand in 10 days but had we started the tournament better, it would have been another team doing the travelling to Durban.

‘It is the nature of the competition and it’s a competition I love being a part of. It tests everything about you as a player and as a coach. It tests the depth of your squad, the mental resolve and it also tests the ability of the coaching staff to manage the playing demands of the squad. I personally love the tournament and I enjoyed the expanded version in 2012.’

Plumtree favours the June break when internationals are played and says a tournament as long as Super Rugby needs a break.

‘I guess the key is not to have too many international players away on Test duty because we saw how a team like the Crusaders struggled post the June internationals. They were just hitting a peak before the All Blacks’ three Tests against the Irish and their players, who were superb at times against Ireland, just never hit the same heights in the remainder of the tournament.

‘The Sharks, by contrast, benefited from the break. We had a chance to reassess, get our injured players back on the park and we also had the benefit of a bye in the first week after the break. I found our players were refreshed and our Springboks gained a lot from that one-week bye. We went on a roll, so it works both ways. As a coaching team we learned a lot from last year, in terms of managing the squad and maximising game time for the entire squad.’

Plumtree, six days after the Sharks’ Super Rugby final defeat in Hamilton, started the Currie Cup campaign against Western Province in Cape Town, and he made 14 changes to the side beaten by the Chiefs.

‘The travel and playing demands forced those changes and we won in Cape Town, which shows you what is possible. I think having so many players away on international duty has allowed us to develop talent at Currie Cup level, which may not have been the case if all our players were available every weekend. It is why the Currie Cup for me will always have prestige, as a tournament, and as a showcase of the next generation of star players in South Africa.’

Plumtree has an expectation of his squad, but won’t differentiate between the need to win and develop quality players and improve the quality of those already in the system.

‘It can’t be one at the expense of the other. The nature of the sport is you have to win but you can develop and win at the same time if your identification is right. I have been so impressed with what Gary Kirsten has done with the Proteas. He has taken risks, always spoken of a bigger picture, be it an ODI World Cup, a T20 series or a Test series. You know what he wants to achieve and he hasn’t been afraid to introduce youngsters at the same time.

‘He has a clear plan, which has been well communicated, but he has also been very clear about the priority in results, which was to win the Test series in England and Australia … which they did. In the interim he has introduced a virtually new T20 side and made many adjustments to the ODI side. I think South African rugby, at national and provincial and regional levels, can learn a lot from what Gary has done with the Proteas cricket side.’

Plumtree, this season, wants a closer working relationship with the national coaches and with whoever can add to the success of the Sharks.

‘I don’t think we share enough in South Africa. I think we can learn from each other, at franchise level, and at national level and we definitely can learn from other codes,’ says Plumtree. ‘A lot of rugby people look to New Zealand but the system is completely different, especially the way in which the NZRU contracts the Super Rugby players and the working relationship that exists between the national coaches and the franchise coaches. You could only take from New Zealand if Saru was contracting the players. They aren’t.

‘There’s a lot right with rugby in South Africa and we have the luxury of so much natural talent. I’d say we need to invest more in the intellectual capital that there is on a coaching front in this country, encourage our players to have a go and take risks without fear of being dropped. We certainly also need to talk more, among ourselves in rugby and to those in other codes, to make South African rugby an entity that can consistently be as strong as New Zealand, and hopefully even stronger.’

13 Responses to John Plumtree – A heart of green and gold

  • 1

    I was surprised to see a couple of well written articles there this morning.

  • 2

    @ Lion4ever:

    lol not sure I only read this one

  • 3

    Thanks for this insight, Plum seems like a true man, was not aware he played for SA sevens. Has he taken up Souh African residency?
    Must say it is a pity that when things do not go well everyone (almost) called for his head and some even wanted to boycott going to the stadium a few years back. They need to stick with their team through thick and thin.

  • 4

    Hey? He has coached the star studded Sharks team since 2008 and in that time he has only won the CC twice.
    Naka has coached a Vrystaat team without the Sharks resources and without a 1/4 of the stars that the Sharks have since 2007 and won the CC once.
    Frans Ludeke has coached a Bok laden Bools team since 2008 and has won the CC once and the S14 twice.

    And they want Plumtree to coach the Boks? Tears

  • 5

    @ Loosehead,
    Approve It defies logic. Have said it before and I will say it again. A lot of people are always slagging Naka, but I would love to see the likes of Coetzee, Plum, and Ludicrous work with such a limited framework. Naka gets his players to gel, and they somehow play for him to the extent that they box way above where most pundits expect them to be.

    Viva Naka! Viva lol

  • 6

    Well us Durbanites have known for years that Plum is a Durban boytjie… Approve

    He has been part of our rugby forever just about. Remember he also played in our first ever Currie Cup win in 1990 by coming off the bench. Been with Natal now the Sharks before our terrific 90’s and was there playing for Natal / Sharks DURING our magnificent 90’s as well, where we were the best team in that era just about. He grew with us from the start of our climb up the ladder to becoming one of the big 3 in this country. He then coached us to two Currie Cups and another few finals where we lost. He has been great for us and hope Sharks can win him a Super Rugby Cup now as that is the only cup missing right now. He is a Shark through and through… Approve

    Plum would be a very good Bok coach I have no doubt about that. Right now though it is Meyer’s turn, but really Plum could have added so much if he was there as a forward coach or assistant coach in some sort of way. All the good rugby brains should be used in our country to get our Boks to where they should be and that is number one in the world. How we can not reach that is just mind boggling with our huge, huge depth here. We have world class talent, but somehow we lack it in coaching. Plum should have been on board with Meyer. The two together with their different ideas would have worked very well. However, I am selfish right now and just pleased he is with the Sharks only, as we need him to win a Super Rugby Cup…. 🙂 🙂

  • 7

    Puma……… disrespect, but with such a talented squad and such a big budget and such good facilities and such good support and well everything that the Sharks Union has to offer……..Plum has won 2 CC’s. That is all. How would his Sharks rather underwhelming results make him a good Bok coach? It would be more of the same………..we may as well stay with Skop Meyer.

  • 8

    Can see where he comes from. The old school Macintosh style which is stealing from the Freestate and other parts of the country to build a super squad combined with the Kiwi choking style. Perfect combination to disappoint those undercover British agents called Tjark supporters

  • 9

    @ Loosehead:
    This will be one of the few occasions that I agree with a Bulls fan. Last time something like this happened I was outside Loftus surrounded by beered up Bulls supporter pretending not to be a WP fan.

  • 10

    @ Bliksem:
    Your posts show just how ignorant and stupid you are, quite frankly I am not sure why I even bother responding to a juvenile delinquent.

  • 11

    8 @ Bliksem:
    You are a disgrace to this site. If we wanted to blog with trolls like you we may as well go back and blog on the other site.

    You only here to cause trouble, you add nothing to this site at all.

  • 12

    11 @ Puma:
    Take it easy Oompie, I’m monitoring Bliksem’s style of blogging. He is not heading my warnings at present, so one more misstep or him thinking he can blog abrasively to try and start up a fight and he’ll be gone from this website…. permanently.

    Hope he reads this… because it’s his last chance.

  • 13

    @ Puma:
    Sigh. Fair enough. I did not mean it in a way to insult anyone nor was it personal. Banter I see going around here I thought you would be used to it and I thought you would know the background of your beloved God Plumtree.

    Sorry if I tried to devalue him. But after all he is a specialist coach who still need to get his Communication and Man management skills which you will find with all the NZ coaches. Here is his expertees and what he can coach

    You will note most of our coaches miss a thing called man management. If you think that is not a important aspect I suggest you go look at Sir Alex Ferguson. As pointed out also he won 2 CC with a team loaded with stars. Super Rugby they were hot and cold and lost in a final. Same thing happened in the CC final where they lost to a team with less experience, less Springboks which they beaten 3 times quite comfortably. Over confidence? Coach with lack of man management skills which exposed them 2 years in a row. Against the Lions where he pushed in his star players in place of those who served them well during the year. Great confidence your showing on those guys who got you there right. Against WP the same. You will note that Alistair Coetzee like the Lions previous year made minor changes and showed faith in the guys that got them there.Beast casual stroll at the first drop goal summed it up perfectly. I have a reputation I will always be picked. Like those string of premiere league managers who lost their jobs under performing despite sitting with all the talent. Because of the lack of man management.

    The undercover British agents I am referring to guys like KP and Rathbone, Brenton Catterall, Geoff Appleford, Juan Grobler and Chad Erskine (United States), Wim Visser, Frank Goedeke and Andrew Binikos, Robin and Chris Smith, Tony and Ian Gregg, Nicholas Compton, Neil Johnson and Trevor Gripper etc etc.

    Nothing personal or anything that points to a insult about it but we all know that region had hundreds of years of British influence which will mean lot of the local developed players there will sit with a two way ticket. One South Africa and the other a country in the commonwealth who ever have the shortest waiting period. So the players get developed with local money and you do not see benefit of it. That is why I call them undercover agents. For above reason and as a joke.

    So I apologize if you think I offended you or that it was my intention. I thought you would have picked up on certain points that I threw on the table and like me see the lighter side of it. In the end we can not beat each other up over players that didn’t perform who doesn’t even know we exist. I am a WP supporter and I was smashed through the 90’s and over the years by Bulls and Sharks supporters. I took it up as banter and accepted the fact that most of the times they had a point and were right. We all lived it through with our cricket team every 4 years. So there that was my reasons. Enjoy your day further


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