KSA Shark ©

Dick Muir’s shrewdest selection

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :In the news, Sharks on 27 Oct 2008 at 20:29

It was not a coincidence that the team that won the ABSA Currie Cup was also the one that had the most experienced coach guiding their fortunes.

As someone who covered a big part of his playing career in South Africa, it seems just the other day that John Plumtree was wearing the No7 jersey of the Sharks and taking part in Currie Cup finals for his adopted province.

Gavin Rich writes for SuperRugby that the reality though is that it is now 12 years since the Kiwi stopped playing and for almost all of that intervening period Plumtree has been coaching top level rugby.

Only he and the Swansea directors will know how he came to walk out of his playing career into one of the top coaching jobs in Welsh rugby. But in those initial years of his career as a coach Plumtree made enough of an impression to get a couple of plum jobs back coaching in New Zealand, including Wellington, who he took to the final of the NPC on three occasions.

Plumtree has quite literally travelled the world as a coach, and he has gone through a learning experience that paid off handsomely for the Sharks when they capped their outstanding domestic season with a well deserved win in the final.

Afterwards he was asked many different questions relating to why the Sharks had won, and he gave many different answers. Among the things he pointed to were the Sharks’ recruitment policy and the shift of emphasis back to the youth levels that took place around the time when Dick Muir took over from Kevin Putt in 2005.

Ultimately though what Plumtree has that the others don’t have is experience, and it was his experience that enabled him to take the Sharks to the next level after a couple of years where they played attractive rugby without it proving to be winning rugby.

They do still score some great tries from line movements, but the changes to the Sharks game since Plumtree took over are not at all subtle. The whole approach of the forward pack is more direct, the ball is seldom run down the line before it has been taken into second phase, and the Sharks run from their own territory only when it is really on to do so.

In a nutshell, the Sharks this season played pragmatic rugby, and Springbok coach Peter de Villiers and Muir, who now serves as his assistant, would do well to take note of what type of game was employed by the more successful teams in this year’s Currie Cup.

While the backline play of the beaten finalists, the Blue Bulls, has improved, it is not as though they have abandoned structure or started to run the ball from all over the place. Western Province showed in the full strength phase of the competition that they are the next best team to the Sharks and the Bulls, and this year they were more structured than they have ever been as under Rassie Erasmus they started to recover from the horrors of recent seasons.

Erasmus is one of the rare exceptions to the rule that generally it is experience that makes a coach successful. He has only been at it for a few years, but then he is a freakily gifted rugby genius who is way beyond the parameters of normality.

But while the Sharks turn-around from pretenders to champions is down to the hard-nosed pragmatism of Plumtree, Sharks fans should pay tribute to the man who started it. After all, it was Muir who saw the value of bringing Plumtree back to Durban as an assistant coach, and it was Muir who started the Sharks on the road back to the top.

It is easy to forget where the Sharks were languishing when Muir took over from Kevin Putt. Those were dark days indeed for the Durban union. Within the space of a season, however, Muir’s personality saw the Sharks regain their pride and team spirit, and they were only just denied a place in the Super 14 semi-finals in 2005, when they profited from Muir’s aggressive youth orientated selection policy.

Muir is not an experienced coach in terms of top level experience, and for all his successes initially as a selector and motivator, he might be the first to admit that his personality and positive attitude is probably a bigger strength than his actual coaching.

He also though has a good gut feel, and he saw what value Plumtree could bring to the Sharks through his Kiwi strategies and work ethic, and it was because of this that Plumtree came to be coaching the Sharks. It takes a good coach to recognise where others can off-set your own weaknesses, and on this basis Muir can consider his mate from Taranaki to be his shrewdest selection.


  • All I can say is: Thank goodness Saru won’t use an international coach in their Bok setup.

    To many times we have been robbed of successful coaches only for them to be discarded by SARU.

    White (okay he wasn’t discarded)
    Muir (not discarded yet.)

    Plum is safe in Dbn. 😎

  • Comment 1, posted at 27.10.08 20:34:49 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • white was never a hit in Durbs, though

  • Comment 2, posted at 27.10.08 20:44:25 by robdylan (CC Champ '08) Reply
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  • @robdylan (CC Champ ‘08) (Comment 2) :

    He was to me. 😉

  • Comment 3, posted at 27.10.08 20:48:21 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • Plumtree has impressed me no end. S14 looking good for the Sharks.

  • Comment 4, posted at 27.10.08 20:51:10 by McLovin Reply

  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 3) : I mean when he was involved with the Sharks in 2000

  • Comment 5, posted at 27.10.08 21:21:50 by robdylan (CC Champ '08) Reply
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  • I am back…..what an AMAZING day at Kings Park (ABSA) on Saturday. Cannot describe the atmosphere and emotion of the day…it was simply unbelievable and worth every penny I spent. What a party afterwards too!! Well done boys!!

  • Comment 6, posted at 27.10.08 22:02:51 by Villie Reply
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  • The sharks have a wonderfully talented team. How about some credit to Rudolf Strauli? Or do we only bring out the Strauli articles when the sharks look shit?

  • Comment 7, posted at 28.10.08 03:54:44 by fyndraai Reply
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  • @fyndraai (Comment 7) :

    He coached the Sharks u/19s to the championships so he deserves credit.

    Well Done Streauli!

  • Comment 8, posted at 28.10.08 05:35:27 by KSA Shark © Reply

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  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 8) :

  • Comment 9, posted at 28.10.08 06:52:51 by Big Fish Reply
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  • @Big Fish (Comment 9) :

    I WAS being sincere. 🙂

  • Comment 10, posted at 28.10.08 06:55:58 by KSA Shark © Reply

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  • @fyndraai (Comment 7) :
    I agree with you wholeheartedly. People are forever lampooning Straueli in the crudest ways but will never acknowledge what a huge role he plays in the whole mechanism that is the Sharks.
    Fortunatly the board has a very good idea and support him.
    Not long ago we had bloggers here telling us (from indide information)how the players were ready to desert the Sharks en masse because of unhappiness with Straueli and even worse that they could because their contracts were so badly drawn up (again Straueli)

    I was very happy to see Straueli sharing in the celebrations.

  • Comment 11, posted at 28.10.08 08:48:00 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • @fyndraai (Comment 7) : i am wondering if fyndraai is rudolph straulli?

    @Salmonoid (Comment 11) : salmonoid i agree he has bought some good players to durban, but he has also wasted money on below par players. so he is pretty evens in my book. he would never have looked good had it not been for john plumtree and dick Muir that turned no namers into international stars. so i think the glory is directed in the right direction.

  • Comment 12, posted at 29.10.08 13:39:54 by try time Reply

  • @try time (Comment 12) : if however we are talking rudolph the player, then i give him great respect. He was brilliant and did us proud.

  • Comment 13, posted at 29.10.08 13:59:48 by try time Reply

  • actually it would actually be nice to see which players strauelli bought to durban, which players Dick and Plum bought in and which players came on their own. maybe rudolph does deserve some respect, or maybe he is a glorified contract underwriter. we won’t know.

  • Comment 14, posted at 29.10.08 14:04:57 by try time Reply

  • the reason why people have slagged off rudolph and kznru is because for 12 years we have watched one of the biggest marketed unions in the Country with a huge support base, flounder like a shark out of water. it pees off fans when great names are bought to durban to retire and take money that should go to exciting young talent. it took dick muir’s insight to turn things around. he is the true talent spotter.

  • Comment 15, posted at 29.10.08 14:16:56 by try time Reply

  • @try time (Comment 12) :

    Not unless Streauli has moved to Atlanta, Georgia.

  • Comment 16, posted at 29.10.08 14:19:54 by KSA Shark © Reply

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  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 16) : 😆 you never know, a guy that big could be in two places at once.

  • Comment 17, posted at 29.10.08 14:22:01 by try time Reply

  • @try time (Comment 12) :
    Im sure Staueli played his part in bringing both Muir and Plumtree to the Sharks.
    The Sharks are active players in recruiting players at all levels for their teams and the Academy. There are bound to be some buys that are not as good as others, especially when you are buying the unfinished product. The Sharks dont generally buy the polished product, they identify rough diamonds and polish most of them.

    Generally speaking Rudolf Straueli’s association with the Sharks tend to overlap very neatly with the the more successful Sharks teams. Co- incidence, maybe – Im not sure.

    I’m much happier with Straueli looking after the Sharks affairs than with those of an opposition union.

  • Comment 18, posted at 29.10.08 14:30:47 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • @try time (Comment 15) :
    Which big name players were brought to the Sharks to retire on huge pay cheques. You are not allowed to mention that huge oke from Namibia.

    Rudolf Straueli can hardly be blamed for all the ills over the last 12 years – he hasn’t even been there that long.

    If Dick Muir is the true talent spotter then we are in the dwang – considering that he is no longer with the union.

  • Comment 19, posted at 29.10.08 14:41:00 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • 26. Hallo die Blou.

    Het eers weer die game gekyk,Spies het ou Kango soos n kleuter laat lyk.
    Posted by Blou Dino (Witbank) Wednesday, October 29, 2008 – 14:26

    Ag asse-f*&%#-blief…. 🙄

  • Comment 20, posted at 29.10.08 14:44:15 by Ice Sharkadelic Babe Reply
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  • @Ice Sharkadelic Babe (Comment 20) :
    Tell Blou Dino that he can watch it until he is blue in the face – the result will stay the same.

    BTW how was the golf yesterday?

  • Comment 21, posted at 29.10.08 14:55:47 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • @Salmonoid (Comment 21) :

    Well – I thought I had a lekker game…but to others it might be sheitty.. :mrgreen:
    Individually…only one “0” on the 1st nine and one on the 2nd nine – 29 point, but came in with my partner at 38 points.. 😎

  • Comment 22, posted at 29.10.08 14:57:34 by Ice Sharkadelic Babe Reply
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  • @Ice Sharkadelic Babe (Comment 22) :

    Must say…I hit my 3 hybrid very well – after my drive, then hybrid – on the green for 2…and THAT’s when the fun started…LOL!

  • Comment 23, posted at 29.10.08 14:59:15 by Ice Sharkadelic Babe Reply
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  • @Salmonoid (Comment 19) : no we aren’t he got guys young enough to last us a good few years. most our guys still have at least 5 years in the tank.
    i put rudolph and kznru, because rudolph isn’t the true scape goat. the ones off the top of my head are snyman, ollie, bobby, tony brown and gaffie.

  • Comment 24, posted at 29.10.08 15:00:54 by try time Reply

  • @Salmonoid (Comment 21) :

    did I just caught you out?? 😎

  • Comment 25, posted at 29.10.08 15:03:09 by Ice Sharkadelic Babe Reply
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  • @Ice Sharkadelic Babe (Comment 20) : don’t stoop to that level!

  • Comment 26, posted at 29.10.08 15:10:47 by robdylan (CC Champ '08) Reply
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  • @try time (Comment 24) :
    Id be lying if I said I knew who was responsible for bringing any of those players to the Sharks or if any of them were really bad investments. Skinstad is a weird one for me, was he good or bad for the Sharks, he has a world cup winners medal and a Super 14 runners up medal while at the Sharks – but how did he even manage to get game time at any union, coming directly out of retirement to try and make the world cup squad. I think Jake White pulled some strings there.

  • Comment 27, posted at 29.10.08 15:10:59 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • but it would really be good to give rudolph a break and say give a list of all the players that you found and what percentage of the pot they take up. and the players that came down on their own career move the amount they cost. and the players dick brought in and their value. look at the value the players bought to the team and see if rudolph deserves the crit aimed at him. maybe he doesn’t deserve the crit levelled at him. i’ll be the first to apologise if i am proven wrong.

    the players in the current set up i know came on their own are john smit, fred michelak, jannie du plessis. which players came through the academy (and does this fall under Rudolph?). It could make interesting reading.

  • Comment 28, posted at 29.10.08 15:11:15 by try time Reply

  • @robdylan (CC Champ ‘08) (Comment 26) :

    I am not…but GEEZ??!! Did the guy get hold of Durban Poison or sumthing??

  • Comment 29, posted at 29.10.08 15:13:03 by Ice Sharkadelic Babe Reply
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  • @try time (Comment 24) :

    Gaffie was in his twenties when he played for us….Ollie gave us his best years of rugby, over 100 matches

  • Comment 30, posted at 29.10.08 15:14:31 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • @Salmonoid (Comment 27) : my sentiments exactly. he made a lot of money for doing very little. he was definately born with a silver spoon in his mouth. he walked into teams and really got it easy. compared to a guy like jacques botes that works his guts out and gets squat recognition.

  • Comment 31, posted at 29.10.08 15:14:37 by try time Reply

  • @Dive Pass (Comment 30) : yes but gaffie played like he was fifty. ollie i am on the fence with. he seemed to be bigger than the team, no pun intended.

  • Comment 32, posted at 29.10.08 15:16:58 by try time Reply

  • Oh and Ollie came to the Sharks as far back as the Mac days, I think Rudi was still playing rugby in Bedford when Ollie got here.

  • Comment 33, posted at 29.10.08 15:21:26 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • @Dive Pass (Comment 30) : but i like to be corrected. great way to learn. i just think on the last 12 years we had a lot of big names that never fired, but during our glory years we had a lot of low key players that did the job. did we as fans maybe blow them up while we waited for the cup meanwhile they were quite average, or were they badly managed. all i do know is the current crop are looking good, and if they keep it up could be every bit as good as if not better than the glory days.

  • Comment 34, posted at 29.10.08 15:24:41 by try time Reply

  • @Ice Sharkadelic Babe (Comment 25) :
    😳 Yes, If you’re referring to the result staying the same regardless of how often you watch it. 2007 Super 14 comes to mind.

    If you are referring to something else then I’m innocent.

  • Comment 35, posted at 29.10.08 15:28:02 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • @Dive Pass (Comment 33) : i never blamed ollie on rudolph. i was wondering why we waited so long, and where the money went. this currie cup has cost us a lot of money over the years. sorry i am on two topics at once. i am even confused. trying to do too many things at once.

  • Comment 36, posted at 29.10.08 15:28:57 by try time Reply

  • Something turnrd very nasty with Ollie – in the Putt era I think. I wonder what the real story was there.

  • Comment 37, posted at 29.10.08 15:32:50 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • @Salmonoid (Comment 37) :

    Yeah…I use to love Ollie….now I cannot stand the guy…he looks like a slob! 😳

  • Comment 38, posted at 29.10.08 15:37:31 by Ice Sharkadelic Babe Reply
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  • @Salmonoid (Comment 37) : Salmanoid I’ve always wondered. Is it Salmonoid like salmon or Salmonoid like salmonella?

  • Comment 39, posted at 29.10.08 15:49:56 by klempie Reply

  • Even Andre Snyman didn’t come to us late in his career but after an injury and unfortunately for the Sharks he was never the player he was before the injury for the Bulls.

    Tony Brown was a stop gap measure when Butch James was suffering with a knee injury and served us well.

    Bobby Skinstad had one season and perhaps it was a last horah before retirement but he did help us get to 2 minutes of a Super 14 title.

  • Comment 40, posted at 29.10.08 15:53:44 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • @klempie (Comment 39) :
    Its more to do with the salmon/trout family (a steroid taking salmon) however if I’m really pissing you off, causing you stomach cramps and gypo’s then you can take the Salmonella version.BTW When I say you, I dont mean you Klempie personally but anyone who Im irritating.

    Ice changed my name to Sammy – Im thinking of making it permanent but she will want royalties.

  • Comment 41, posted at 29.10.08 16:22:29 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • @Salmonoid (Comment 41) :

    Sammy….I am not THAT hardcore businesswoman…for you, forniet! :mrgreen:

  • Comment 42, posted at 29.10.08 16:25:42 by Ice Sharkadelic Babe Reply
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  • @Salmonoid (Comment 41) : No no. It was just for clarification. Cos the “l” in salmon is silent but not in salmonella. I just wanted to no if I was saying it write in my head. So it’s Saminoyd?

  • Comment 43, posted at 29.10.08 16:25:51 by klempie Reply

  • Klempie
    Any views on Proccie taking the job of convenor of selectors at CSA.

  • Comment 44, posted at 29.10.08 16:26:22 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • “saying it write”…LMAO…and you are suppose to be a boffin at the Englist language?? 😈

  • Comment 45, posted at 29.10.08 16:27:09 by Ice Sharkadelic Babe Reply
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  • @Salmonoid (Comment 44) : Oh not been paying much attention to CSA lately mate. I’ve had other fish to fry. Like the ECB. All things being equal though, Proccie is one of the few administrators/officials in SA with a brain so guess I’m all for it.

  • Comment 46, posted at 29.10.08 16:28:34 by klempie Reply

  • @Ice Sharkadelic Babe (Comment 45) : Oeps. Luister jy! Ek’t net ‘n cheese russian dog en tjips gevreet (nie geëet, gevreet). Ek is nou in ‘n kos koma. Kannie lekker dink nie.

  • Comment 47, posted at 29.10.08 16:31:26 by klempie Reply

  • @Ice Sharkadelic Babe (Comment 42) :
    Aww, thanks Ice.
    @klempie (Comment 43) :

  • Comment 48, posted at 29.10.08 16:32:34 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • @klempie (Comment 47) :

    And THAT is your excuse??? 🙄

    Anyways…cheers all – have a splendid evening!! 😀

  • Comment 49, posted at 29.10.08 16:32:41 by Ice Sharkadelic Babe Reply
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  • @klempie (Comment 46) :
    I think its a good move, we need more of his ilk involved.
    Whats up with the ECB, not paying, or have they found that bug that screws with KP’s averages?

  • Comment 50, posted at 29.10.08 16:38:59 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • @Salmonoid (Comment 50) : HAHAHAHA. Nah just a bigger project is all.

  • Comment 51, posted at 29.10.08 17:17:24 by klempie Reply

  • Hope they pay you in pounds.

    Cheers Champs.

  • Comment 52, posted at 29.10.08 17:24:25 by Salmonoid Reply
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