robdylan

Holy Smit, that was sudden…


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks on 7 Jun 2016 at 08:52
Tagged with : , , ,

We’ve all had a bit of time to let things sink in, after the rather sudden announcement ten days or so ago that John Smit will be stepping down from his position as Sharks CEO at the end of the year.

As always, I’ve been trying to do a little digging, to figure out what exactly is going on, while also trying to be sensitive to the difficulties that this situation inevitably causes for all the people involved. The official version of events is that John is stepping down voluntarily in order to spend more time with his family and I certainly can understand and appreciate that position. Those of us who try to juggle even “normal” jobs with the stresses of a young family will know that feeling of utter desperation as you try to keep all the balls in the air at once, yet somehow never quite manage to keep your eye on them all. Children are the most precious thing in the world and they grow up ridiculously fast; enough time to spend with family is a commodity that is in short supply, even for those of us whose job title isn’t an acronym beginning with “C”. It takes a special kind of sacrifice to do a job like that long term and my view is that it’s really not a job that’s compatible with the stage of life at which John finds himself.

To be a good CEO you need to be married to your job and while we can perhaps accuse Smit (and more so the board that appointed him) of a little naivety in not realising this ahead of time, I think it’s probably a good thing that the parties have reached the decision now. John has spent three good years in the position and while there has been a huge amount of change and turmoil in those years, I feel my old school mate has rolled with the punches rather well and can now move on to other things with his dignity intact.

That doesn’t change the fact that there’s a bit of a feeling of disappointment in that the “fairytale appointment” that so many of us lauded back in 2013 has come to an end so abruptly. When you appoint a 36-year-old CEO, I think there’s a natural expectation that he’s going to grow into the job and hold it for a long time and that by the time he’s in his fifties, you’re going to have a truly formidable administrator with unrivalled experience and knowledge about the job, the game, the team and the union. I’m not really sure if the Sharks are now going to actually benefit from anything that John has learned over the last three years; in fact, this feels more like yet another “start over” with the associated turmoil and growing pains that will come with it.

The Sharks have started the process of looking for a replacement and there’s an article on their website calling suitable candidates to submit an application. It appears to be a reasonably standard job description, with the addition of the requirement to hold an “appropriate graduate qualification; with a business degree being an added advantage” a slight nod to the fact that being a well-liked and respected former player is perhaps not the only qualification you need in order to succeed as a business leader.

Smit has, in recent months, been pictured spending a lot of time with former Saracens CEO Edward Griffiths, SuperSport cameras often catching the two sitting side by side at Kings Park. It’s not exactly clear what role Griffiths has been playing in Durban of late, but those few whispers that I have picked up would indicate that he must be an early favourite to replace Smit, assuming he is interested in the position. While not everyone’s cup of tea, you could certainly tick a number of the boxes by scanning Griffiths’ CV and given that he’s been on the scene for a few months already and probably knows a fair bit of what’s going on, that transition could be a little less painful to manage.

Boardroom politics, however, are a given in any enterprise, so don’t be too surprised if there are a number of other candidates, with their own support bases, lurking in the wings too.

For now, though, the most vital thing is that none of this has an effect on Gary Gold and the team – the “rugby” side of the house – as they head into a crucial couple of months. The Sharks, after the chaos of 2015, are poised to qualify for the Super Rugby knock-outs and we need everyone to be facing in the same direction to ensure that happens.



59 Comments

  • Thanks Rob,kinda hoped there was a story behind the story…all the best John.

  • Comment 1, posted at 07.06.16 09:06:26 by BarendL Reply
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  • I’m sad to see him go, it wasn’t a smooth start but things seemed to be coming together of late. If he decided to leave as is being suggested good for him and all the best and I hope that is the case. Hope the Sharks pick up a solid CEO.

  • Comment 2, posted at 07.06.16 09:13:50 by Hulk Reply

    HulkSuper Rugby player
     
  • @BarendL (Comment 1) : Don’t you think that is a bit of a problem?

  • Comment 3, posted at 07.06.16 09:14:21 by Die Kriek Reply

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  • This is such a huge disappointment for me,John ‘s appointment was such a positive thing in the land of escalating disappointment.He was a fresh start after the years of constipation under the old regime.He should have succeeded,and the guys who put him in that position should have made sure that he did.
    Spend more time with your family is a thin excuse especially for a 36 year old.

  • Comment 4, posted at 07.06.16 09:33:45 by The hound Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 4) : And the old regime, with a good smattering of Sharks discards are purring along quiete nicely on the highveld, hardly constipated.

  • Comment 5, posted at 07.06.16 09:38:09 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @BarendL (Comment 1) : There is a story behind the story, its just not out yet.

  • Comment 6, posted at 07.06.16 09:39:00 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 4) : And yes it is a huge disappointment, I think we were all expecting a lot.

  • Comment 7, posted at 07.06.16 09:40:24 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • First off, epic headline Rob.

    Although there were some definite rough patches I think John handled himself well overall and I would not have minded him staying on and continue to grow into his CEO position. Having said that, I can definitely understand anyone who wishes to put family first, so best of luck in all future endeavors John. Hope we still see you involved at the Sharks in some capacity in future.

  • Comment 8, posted at 07.06.16 09:42:39 by vanmartin Reply
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  • John Smit did a lot right and also a few wrong things during his time but i like to think he got a lot more right than wrong and he was required t make some very tough and unpopular decisions for the betterment of the Union. The official reason of wanting to spend more family time is quite weak and i really thought that they would have come up with something better. I believe it was known a week or two before the announcement that he was going to leave by mutual agreement. In other words he got told dont come monday. I cant see this affecting the team too much especially those with contracts already in place. A new appointment does often bring a breath of fresh air so hopefully we can look forward to the players trying to impress the new boss when that appointment is made.

  • Comment 9, posted at 07.06.16 09:43:11 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • ” lurking in the wings”

    Do we know of any former wings with a business degree…Cabous vd. Westhuizen – a kind of hippy Ceo. :lol:

  • Comment 10, posted at 07.06.16 09:49:53 by FireTheLooser Reply

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  • @The hound (Comment 4) : “thin excuse” Wow… I have never disagreed with a comment on SW more than that. Maybe you’re not a famliy type, but there is no job / amount of money / fame / power / whatever that will ever be able to compete with my family.
    When my previous job started getting in the way of me spending quality time with my family, I started looking and found one that didn’t. And my ex-job didn’t even have ignorant people slandering me in front of my kids and missus.

  • Comment 11, posted at 07.06.16 09:52:51 by gregkaos Reply
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  • If Griffiths comes in don’t think Gold will last very long think we could see the return of one Dick Muir.

  • Comment 12, posted at 07.06.16 09:57:41 by The hound Reply
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  • @gregkaos (Comment 11) : Sorry but I grew up in a generation where work was something you had to do and endure for the sake of your family

  • Comment 13, posted at 07.06.16 10:00:50 by The hound Reply
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  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 6) : you will have to wait for his book to come out

  • Comment 14, posted at 07.06.16 10:03:58 by Zibbie Reply
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  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 10) : Cabous is too busy in Mauritius running his beach bar ;)

  • Comment 15, posted at 07.06.16 10:05:19 by Uli Boelie Reply
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  • @Uli Boelie (Comment 15) : So he does have management experience then :)

  • Comment 16, posted at 07.06.16 10:09:09 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 16) : of course ;)

  • Comment 17, posted at 07.06.16 10:09:47 by Uli Boelie Reply
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  • @gregkaos (Comment 11) : I hear you on the family but Smit, of all people has plied his entire senior life as an international rugby player , ie many, many days away from his family. I wouldnt be surprised if this job actually affords him more bed nights with his family than it did while he was a rugby player.

  • Comment 18, posted at 07.06.16 10:25:22 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 10) : And the first thing Cabous would do would be to appoint Plumtree as the coach of the Sharks… :twisted:

  • Comment 19, posted at 07.06.16 10:29:22 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • Very sad to see him go, but hoping they replace him with someone who is good. Not in the Brian V rooyen mould please

  • Comment 20, posted at 07.06.16 10:54:07 by Dragnipur Reply
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  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 19) : I think Muir would fit better with Cabous’ island bar vibe he’d recreate at the Sharks…..especially the cocktails. :twisted:

    @Uli Boelie (Comment 15) : @SheldonK (Comment 16) : Ooh fellars, I think we’re too clever – a spot on the board for each of you. :grin:

  • Comment 21, posted at 07.06.16 11:21:33 by FireTheLooser Reply

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  • The one thing that has me doubting the whole “spend more time with my young family” excuse: he spent most of his free time on a mountain bike trail somewhere – surely if being a Ceo was so hard on his family life, he’d have spent every second of free time with his family?

  • Comment 22, posted at 07.06.16 11:24:20 by FireTheLooser Reply

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  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 22) : You do know thats just the easy excuse. Dont be surprised to see him take up a role with the SA Rugby Legends soon. He watches his kids sport more than the wife so just to put into context. As someone said John Smit would have made a good Director of Rugby…CEO was probably just past his limits.

  • Comment 23, posted at 07.06.16 11:31:34 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 23) : Was a bit strange to have the Ceo double as the head of recruitment….maybe even commercial manager would have been a better fit.

  • Comment 24, posted at 07.06.16 11:35:17 by FireTheLooser Reply

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  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 19) : I am sure you wrong there, it would be Ian Mac :mrgreen:

  • Comment 25, posted at 07.06.16 11:44:42 by Uli Boelie Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 23) : You are so right Vareejes is a huge J.S fan and big time supporter but where does that leave Stephan Tereblanche.

  • Comment 26, posted at 07.06.16 11:48:58 by The hound Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 26) : Stephen has been good in his role as CEO, i dont think John would replace him. But they are good mates and he was with all the Legends guys at a function i went to, but yeh im just speculating here.

  • Comment 27, posted at 07.06.16 11:52:46 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @Uli Boelie (Comment 25) : Mac, Muir, Plum, I could live with them all. Saw Mac at a talk a short while ago, still full of passion.

  • Comment 28, posted at 07.06.16 12:40:28 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 22) : Dont forget offroading in the cane fields. :twisted:

  • Comment 29, posted at 07.06.16 12:41:58 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 26) : Maybe a swap in environment for the two of them? ST is doing a great job at the legends, and he is a previous player, that got business experience now, and have shown what he can do in that terms

  • Comment 30, posted at 07.06.16 12:47:40 by Henkb Reply
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  • Craig Jamieson?

  • Comment 31, posted at 07.06.16 13:01:36 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 31) : You should at least give us more time to come up with extraordinary conspiracy theories ????

  • Comment 32, posted at 07.06.16 13:03:19 by Henkb Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 31) : He doesn’t fit your “waiting in the wings clue – so we’re not discussing him. :twisted:

    He seems qualified enough, and Salmonoid might get his dream of Plumtree as Sharks head coach should Jamieson get the job….to me, he’s part of the old guard – we need to continue along the freshening-up path we started under Smit; just need someone more dedicated to ceo-ing, instead of cycl-ing. ;)

  • Comment 33, posted at 07.06.16 13:08:23 by FireTheLooser Reply

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  • we dont need an ex-player to run the business. We need a guy to find fresh ways of making money so we can keep and buy top players. The fans shouldnt even have to know what the CEO’s name is. Who is the CEO of Man United? Dont google it. I had to. Hes an investment banker and an accountant.

  • Comment 34, posted at 07.06.16 13:22:25 by West Indies Cricket Board Reply
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  • @West Indies Cricket Board (Comment 34) : Very good point

  • Comment 35, posted at 07.06.16 13:31:12 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @The hound (Comment 4) : Very thin. My wife would leave me if I decide I must work less at 36. Joking but ja, that wasnt the reason..

  • Comment 36, posted at 07.06.16 13:36:42 by West Indies Cricket Board Reply
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  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 33) : Waaraa, waaraa, waaraa. New can be good but then it has to be better than the old…you know the rest. So maybe the new new will work.

    Plum is gone and I doubt would ever come back. Ill take Strools and Swys de Bruin though.

  • Comment 37, posted at 07.06.16 13:39:46 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 28) : did mac maybe not leave the sharks too soon?he was caretaker coach of the sharks for that week leading up to the sharks vs brumbies match back in 2005.somehow seems to me he left too soon.not saying head coach.maybe I’m just being sentimental.

  • Comment 38, posted at 07.06.16 14:05:24 by 50shadesofshark Reply

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  • The Smit departure is a pretty straightforward in my view. The union has hemorrhaged millions over the years through poor decision making, and unfortunately the buck stops with the CEO in any business. Poor acquisitions have been a big problem – paying out Plumtree, White and even Matt Stevens must have cost a bucket load. But are only part of the problem. The point I want to make is that with any good company, the ordinary employees should be sheltered from the boardroom turmoil and allowed to get on with their jobs. You get the feeling that even the players themselves were wrapped up in the boardroom politics, and this for me signals a poorly functioning exco.

  • Comment 39, posted at 07.06.16 14:36:20 by The Great Couch Shark Reply
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  • To quote John Oliver (when they made a movie about FIFA): “The players should be grabbing the headlines, not the execs”

  • Comment 40, posted at 07.06.16 14:40:42 by The Great Couch Shark Reply
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  • @50shadesofshark (Comment 38) : Dont remember that Mac was the interim coach but I do remember the game against the Brumbies, it was a beaut.

  • Comment 41, posted at 07.06.16 15:45:10 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @The Great Couch Shark (Comment 39) : I also cant help but wonder if, behind the scenes, there was not a drama unfolding with the Potgieter and Du Preez twins leaving / signing that was not handled correctly.

  • Comment 42, posted at 07.06.16 15:47:22 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @50shadesofshark (Comment 38) : When the last time you saw Mac,trust me he is an old man now,so much so that he even plays off the pensioners tees,probably ques up at Checkers on Wed too.

  • Comment 43, posted at 07.06.16 16:06:31 by The hound Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 43) : Tell us about this Checkers Wednesday thing.

  • Comment 44, posted at 07.06.16 16:54:40 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 44) : Where you been living its pensioners day,huge specials for us senior citizens thats where most of us go to pull senior chicks.Who you bullshitting you ve been grab a granny sniffing around there since you were a boy ,or then again you probably still one.

  • Comment 45, posted at 07.06.16 17:33:49 by The hound Reply
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  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 6) : I heard on good autority that the Sharks lost close to R70m under Smits watch with chopping of the coaches starting with Plum and his assistants,Henderson(school teacher),White and all the travelling of BV and Gary Gold from CPT for training coupled with the contracting of a high number of players.

  • Comment 46, posted at 08.06.16 08:23:42 by Tumza Reply

    TumzaUnder 21 player
     
  • i hear that the school coach is earning around R2m a year at Hillton College??? A high school affords that kind of money???

  • Comment 47, posted at 08.06.16 08:26:11 by Tumza Reply

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  • @Tumza (Comment 47) : Have you had a look at the Hilton school fees?

  • Comment 48, posted at 08.06.16 08:28:00 by SheldonK Reply

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  • If thats the case then :???: :!:

  • Comment 49, posted at 08.06.16 09:06:46 by Tumza Reply

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  • @Tumza (Comment 46) : hi and welcome to the site.

    There have been some very interesting claims made (on both sides) relating to the state of the Sharks’ finances. Smit himself has been credited in official releases with ensuring some sort of turnaround – I believe there was talk of a R21M improvement, but with no actual figures shared, we never figured out whether that meant we were in the black or not. Dark rumour persist that there is a massive hole in the finances and your talk of R70M in “school fees” for Smit could well be accurate.

    Tough times ahead for whoever takes over, I’m sure.

  • Comment 50, posted at 08.06.16 09:35:14 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 50) : Just slightly off topic…i know the Sharks and Supersport are the main shareholders…but is there a possibility of say a Russian billionaire buying the majority stake in the Sharks much like is happening in football? Like is there anything preventing a private company/individual from buying a majority share and thus controlling the Sharks?

  • Comment 51, posted at 08.06.16 09:40:22 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @SheldonK (Comment 51) : I’m not sure SA Rugby’s charter allows this

  • Comment 52, posted at 08.06.16 09:52:45 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 52) : I had a slight feeling that was the case but wasnt sure.

  • Comment 53, posted at 08.06.16 10:06:42 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @SheldonK (Comment 53) : South African rugby has a long history of millionaires controlling provinces,Louis Luyt and Johan Rupert are but two.

  • Comment 54, posted at 08.06.16 10:13:22 by The hound Reply
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  • At the moment the chief share holder in Sharks rugby is Super Sport,and I presume their shares would be up for sale at the right price.

  • Comment 55, posted at 08.06.16 10:15:47 by The hound Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 54) : @The hound (Comment 55) : In the past yes..although think that was more just influence than actual legal control, but presently i dont think there any unions/provinces controlled by millionaires or individuals. I dont think Supersport own the majority share though…but yes they would sell at the right price

  • Comment 56, posted at 08.06.16 10:21:00 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @The hound (Comment 45) : Ahhhh dude, youre taking me back to my school days. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 57, posted at 08.06.16 10:34:10 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 56) : They may not own a majority of the shares but they are the biggest share holder.
    In the very recent history in fact prior to this regime the Lions were owned by a pair of Gaugteng millionaires.

  • Comment 58, posted at 08.06.16 10:56:01 by The hound Reply
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  • @The hound (Comment 58) : Yeh i know Supersport are the biggest but without being a majority they cant really control the Sharks. And its that control and financial influence etc that i was referring to in asking if private ownership in effect is allowed.

  • Comment 59, posted at 08.06.16 11:05:10 by SheldonK Reply

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