CEO Coetzee latest to leave Shark Tank

Aphelele Fassi was the player of the match in the Sharks’ recent victory over Edinburgh. | BackpagePix

Aphelele Fassi was the player of the match in the Sharks’ recent victory over Edinburgh. | BackpagePix

Published Apr 3, 2024


Mike Greenaway

The winds of change continue to blow through the Shark Tank with the confirmation that CEO Ed Coetzee is to move on at the end of July.

Coetzee, a Sharks prop in his youth before enjoying a long career in France, returned to the Sharks in 2014 as a finance officer and took over as CEO from Gary Teichmann in 2019.

Aphelele Fassi was the player of the match in the Sharks’ recent victory over Edinburgh. | BackpagePix

The 44-year-old’s decision to move overseas is understood to be for personal reasons and Sharks owner Marco Masotti says he will still have a role to play for the Sharks from his London base.

Masotti says investment guru Shaun Bryans will help the Sharks’ administration in the interim and the hunt for a new CEO will begin shortly. At this stage, nobody has been targeted.

Bryans has been a board member of the Sharks and has a strong business background. Masotti wants the Cape Town-based Bryans to move to the Shark Tank and oversee the transition from Coetzee to the new CEO.

From London, Coetzee can assist the Sharks with European sponsors and the Sharks’ desire to work closely with Saracens, the English Premiership club that has a strong South African influence.

Masotti has been conducting what he calls a “deep dive” into why the Sharks have struggled this season. They were at the bottom of the 16-team United Rugby Championship table until a fortnight ago when they began turning things around with solid wins over Ulster and Edinburgh (last week).

Werner Kok is set to leave the Sharks at the end of the season. | Backpagepix

Coach John Plumtree and director of rugby Neil Powell have been casting a steely eye on the player roster and there is movement in both directions.

In recent weeks, the Sharks have confirmed the signings of World Cup winners Andre Esterhuizen (from Harlequins), Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92) and former Springbok Jason Jenkins (Leinster).

The up-and-coming Lions pair of Jordan Hendrikse and Emmanuel Tshituka will be joining their older brothers, Jaden and Vincent, in Durban.

Players recently cut from the squad include Blitzboks legend Werner Kok, locks Hyron Andrews, and Le Roux Roets while long-standing flyhalf Curwin Bosch is understood to be bound for French club Montpellier.

The newcomers join a raft of current Springboks in Vincent Koch, Ox Nché, Bongi Mbonambi, Eben Etzebeth, Jaden Hendrikse, Grant Williams, Lukhanyo Am, and Makazole Mapimpi.

Plumtree has long lamented his inability to field a full-strength team because of national call-ups or resting protocols but since he has had his Boks at his disposal, the Sharks have started winning.

This Sunday they play a last-16 match against Zebre in the Challenge Cup and they surely will get past the Italians for a third win in a row. That would set them up with a quarter-final in Durban against the winner of this weekend’s match between Edinburgh and Bayonne.

If the Sharks progress, they are set to “host” a semi-final at The Stoop ground next to Twickenham Stadium in London.

The reality is that after an awful URC, the Sharks have a very good chance of rescuing their season with a Challenge Cup title win. That has the juicy carrot of giving them a back door entry to next season’s lucrative Champions Cup.

Meanwhile, the coach of Edinburgh, Sean Everitt, was asked at the weekend what he thought of his former team.

He said: “For me, I think this team needs to settle from a recruitment and coaching point of view.

“I read the other day that the Sharks have had over 40 coaches (mostly assistants) over the last 10 years. You can’t build consistency with that.

“The team that the Sharks put out week to week is very good and is a team that can win and a team that can play. If you look at a guy like (Aphelele) Fassi today, he put us under huge pressure with his kicking game and counter-attacking ability.

“They do have a set piece that operates well and winning teams have good set pieces. It’s about them sticking together and putting together a string of good performances.”