Sharks ‘mass exodus’ denied

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John Smit feb26

AFP

The Sharks have lost a vital 227 years of rugby coaching, managerial and jadministrative experience since former Bok captain John Smit took the helm. Photo: Stephane De Sakutin

Durban – A staggering 227 years of rugby coaching, managerial and administrative experience has been lost to the Sharks since the change of leadership from former chief executive Brian van Zyl to former Bok captain John Smit.

This information was contained in a document shown to the Daily News by a source.

It details the loss of 15 key people in managerial, coaching and administrative positions.

The people involved have, in the past year, either been asked to resign, resigned, or been offered an exit package or moved to greener pastures.

Pressed for comment, the Sharks said this was no indication of a “mass exodus”, saying the employees left as they had reached their retirement age.

Sharks spokeswoman Novashni Chetty would not confirm the number of staff employed at the Sharks and said that was a private and confidential matter.

“Over the period of time, many staff came to their retirement ages. There is no mass exodus, with time and change and new management, there are bound to be changes, but there is no mass exodus.

“Most of the guys have come to their retirement, some of the other staff have now moved on to other positions – so they have resigned and have nothing to do with being asked to leave,” she said.

Asked for a breakdown of how many had been asked to retire, resign or those who voluntarily switched jobs, Chetty said she would have to consult human resources at the Sharks.

One of the former staff members who was asked to take a severance package was Clinton Isaacs, 52, a former technical analyst – part of the coaching staff.

He said he had been approached by the new leadership and given an option to take a severance package.

He would not say what the other options were, but said he accepted the package and left – although he had not wished to leave the Sharks at that stage.

He is now doing consultancy work in the soccer fraternity and is involved in high school sports with local schools.

Isaacs said he saw it as an opportunity to “go forward”.

Another staffer, Piet Strydom, who will vacate his role as admin manager, said his contract was coming to an end and he had reached retirement age and had no qualms with leaving the team he has worked with since 1978.

He had been poached from the Free State to be a rugby lecturer at the Durban Teachers College. He is said to have been the force behind turning around the fortunes of the Sharks in his role as administrator, when they were promoted from the B league of the Currie Cup to the A league in the early 1980s.

“I’ve been with the Sharks for 20 years and I was a convener for 17 years in the old days. My time has come to an end and I must move on.

“It was not my decision, it was the board’s, but I had been informed long ago, the same goes for guys like Mr Brian van Zyl.

“I have no regrets,” he said.

Strydom worked as the team manager for 10 years between 1994 and 2004, and as admin manager for 10 years until now.

Leave

He will leave the Sharks at the end of the month.

“I’m ready to move on now, I have grandkids I would like to spend time with – I have my wife and we have an opportunity to travel, and that’s something I’ve had to sacrifice – being with her, but I’m not the first guy to move on,” he said.

George Laas, chairman of the Sharks Supporters Club, said the fans were aware of the changes and were only focused on the team and attracting fans back to the King’s Park Stadium and ensuring that Jake White’s term was a success.

“I know the guys that have left or moved on, it’s a difficult one, but for us we want to see youngsters perform and at the selections being good for the Sharks,” he said.

He singled out Hans Scriba, former Sharks Academy managing director, and said he was presented with a “fantastic opportunity” to work with the SA Rugby Union.

“I don’t know if there’s tension among the guys, but when Scriba left, he seemed happy to me.

“I assisted him with the moving of his car to Cape Town. But for us we’re just hoping the coach can do it for us, coming back must be a wonderful experience,” he said.

“In business people move on, some of the people must be part and parcel of changes,” he said.

THE DEPARTED:

l Brian van Zyl: Former chief executive – 20 years

l John Plumtree: Former coach – 7 years

l Garth Giles: Director of coaching – 19 years

l Hans Scriba: Academy MD – 22 years

l Rudolf Straeuli: Sharks communications manager – 13 years

l Colin Heard: KZN Rugby Union and Sharks general manager – 16 years

l Paul Ackerman: KZNRU Referee – 22 years

l Clinton Isaacs: Technical analyst – 15 years

l Swys de Bruin: Academy coach – 12 years

l Hugh Reece-Edwards: Sharks assistant coach – 8 years

l Grant Bashford: Sharks assistant coach – 7 years

l Megan Harris: Public relations manager –

15 years

l Piet Strydom: Admin manager – 20 years

l Gavin Melville: Junior Procurement – 17 years

l Roelof Kotze: Academy manager – 14 years

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