Richard Ferguson

Smit confirmed Sharks CEO

Written by Richard Ferguson (Richard Ferguson)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks on 16 Apr 2013 at 12:13
Tagged with : , , , , ,

The Sharks (Pty) Ltd has announced that John Smit, as expected, has been appointed as the new CEO.

Smit will effectively start 1 July 2013 with the plan being to sit with current CEO Brian van Zyl until he retires at the end of February 2014.

The following is from the Sharks Press release on the matter:

Durban, 16 April 2013: The Board of Directors of The Sharks (Pty) Ltd are pleased to announce the appointment of Mr John Smit as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Sharks (Pty) Ltd, effective 1st July 2013. John takes over the reins from current CEO, Mr Brian van Zyl who will mentor John until his pre-agreed retirement date of 28th February 2014.

Having joined The Sharks on the 1st February 1994, Brian van Zyl will have served The Sharks with distinction for 20 years. With his sound administration and business knowledge, he has worked tirelessly to ensure that The Sharks have become not only one of the most financially sound unions but also a sporting brand of international acclaim. He has commanded the respect of the South African Rugby Union, team management, past and present players, staff of The Sharks (Pty) Ltd and the other stakeholders whom he has interacted with over the years.

Mr Stephen Saad, the Chairman of The Sharks Board of Directors, says, “On behalf of the Board of The Sharks (Pty) Ltd, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Brian for his invaluable contribution to The Sharks. His knowledge, experience and understanding of the game and its administration is outstanding. At the end of his tenure, he leaves The Sharks in good stead and we salute him for the many years of dedication, commitment and service that he has given, not only to The Sharks (Pty) Ltd, but to rugby in South Africa.

“In the past 2 decades under his stewardship, The Sharks have become the most followed provincial rugby franchise in the southern hemisphere. He has the respect of both supporters and adversaries alike. Brian, we salute your unwavering service to The Sharks and thank you for your continued support including the mentorship of John.”

“John Smit’s appointment marks the dawn of a new and exciting era at The Sharks (Pty) Ltd,” said Saad. We look forward to welcoming the favourite son of South African Rugby to his new role as CEO. We pledge our support and commitment to him and have every confidence that he will embrace his new role, with the same leadership, spirit and vigour that he displayed as the most capped Springbok captain and player of all time.”

Having spent thirteen years of his professional career with The Sharks, John makes a welcome return to a province that he loves and where it all began for him. He has become the most respected and decorated rugby player in South African history and his achievements both on and off the field are well documented. He is a natural leader and has an innate ability to rally his troops and get the best out of his team. When he takes up his new position, John will inherit an experienced management support team at The Sharks, who will offer him guidance and advice as he settles into his new position.

To this end, Leigh Heard who has spent 21 years with The Sharks (Pty) Ltd as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) will assume the responsibility of Chief Operating Officer (COO). Leigh’s role will include both financial and commercial functions and will help provide continuity and preserve the corporate memory of the successful Sharks management team.

The Sharks Head Coach, John Plumtree has stated, “On behalf of team management and the players, I extend our congratulations to John on his appointment. Over the years, many of us have shared special memories with John and we look forward to working with and supporting him in his new capacity.”

The Sharks current CEO, Brian van Zyl has said, “I wish to congratulate John on his appointment and wish him the very best in his new role. He was an inspirational captain and team man and I know that I leave The Sharks in good hands. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Board of The Sharks (Pty) Ltd, stakeholders and my staff for their assistance and support over the years. I have a few months to go before retirement and will use this time to ensure that the black and white baton is securely placed in John’s hands and so contribute to the successful Sharks legacy. I leave a proud man.”

Stephen Saad concluded by saying, “John is currently playing for Saracens in England and upon his return to South Africa, The Sharks will hold a press conference.”

John Smit’s Stats and Achievements:
• Was capped 111 times for the Springboks in a 12 year international career (2000-2011);
• Represented South Africa at three Rugby World Cups;
• Captained the Springboks on 83 occasions;
• Represented The Sharks on 186 occasions (61 Currie Cup and 125 Super Rugby caps) between 1998 and 2011;
• Captained the Springboks to Rugby World Cup glory in 2007;
• Tri-Nations winner in 2004 and 2009;
• Captained the Springboks in their series win against the British and Irish Lions in 2009;
• Retired as the most-capped Springbok of all time and the most-capped international captain of all-time.


  • Woohoo!

  • Comment 1, posted at 16.04.13 12:18:26 by PTAShark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • All the best Barney. You have the potential to do great things, and I am especially happy that he will be mentored in preparation for the huge responsibility. Hopefully that wont abruptly end in February next year.

  • Comment 2, posted at 16.04.13 12:24:01 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Big Fish (Comment 2) :

    You make a valid point there!

    I was hoping something like that would happen, as I don’t think anything can prepare you for what happens in the boardroom.

    Let’s just hope van Zyl is as supportive as can be.

  • Comment 3, posted at 16.04.13 12:25:52 by Richard Ferguson Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    Richard Ferguson
  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 3) : the old school tie will help with that

  • Comment 4, posted at 16.04.13 12:30:19 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Best of luck John. Hell knows you are going to need it in the dirty game of rugby administration.

  • Comment 5, posted at 16.04.13 12:40:39 by Morné Reply
  • Hopefully with Barney involved it will change things at the tank. Happier players are better players.

  • Comment 6, posted at 16.04.13 12:42:34 by lostfish Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter Competition Winner
  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 3) : A paragraph of the press release was omitted which would explain how this aspect of the business will be handled.

    To this end, Leigh Heard who has spent 21 years with The Sharks (Pty) Ltd as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) will assume the responsibility of Chief Operating Officer (COO). Leigh’s role will include both financial and commercial functions and will help provide continuity and preserve the corporate memory of the successful Sharks management team.

  • Comment 7, posted at 16.04.13 12:55:00 by insider Reply

  • @insider (Comment 7) : haha…. you just became my new best best best EVER friend. Please extend my congratulations to the person concerned.

  • Comment 8, posted at 16.04.13 12:59:04 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @insider (Comment 7) :

    Apologies and hearty congratulations..

    Somehow a few paragraphs didn’t copy, my mistake..

  • Comment 9, posted at 16.04.13 13:02:41 by Richard Ferguson Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    Richard Ferguson
  • So I guess we can now say it

    Welcome back Barney!!

  • Comment 10, posted at 16.04.13 13:06:51 by Die Kriek Reply

  • @Die Kriek (Comment 10) : amen!

  • Comment 11, posted at 16.04.13 13:08:17 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • O Captain, My CEO

    Congrats John and best of luck!

  • Comment 12, posted at 16.04.13 13:20:04 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • what a great day for sharks rugby. COuld not help but see the irony in the fact that John Plumtree was Smit`s boss a few years back, now Smit goes on and gets to be Plumtree`s boss… Just goes to show, don’t EVER piss off someone underneath you, could be your boss tomorrow. 🙂

  • Comment 13, posted at 16.04.13 13:42:53 by VanWilder Reply

  • Glad to see Brain will stay on till Feb as he did a lot for Sharks rugby. Congrats to John and good luck.

  • Comment 14, posted at 16.04.13 15:32:45 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
  • Mr John Smit 😎
    CEO Barney.
    Big congrats squire.

  • Comment 15, posted at 16.04.13 15:48:45 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • I cannot help to think that this is a very unwise move by the Sharks. He has no qualifications or experience for such a position.

    They are making a sentimental choice in an area that has no place for sentiment.
    What are they going to do if he fumbles? Fire their favorite sun? That’s unlikely to happen until the damage to the Sharks is irreparable.

  • Comment 16, posted at 17.04.13 03:05:46 by fyndraai Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @fyndraai (Comment 16) : look at all the biggest and best businesses out there,virgin being on of them is run by a college drop out who today is one of the wealthiest men in the world. I can tell you now though that his empire wasn’t built by him alone but people around him who shared his dream. Barney has the aura that he brings that I haven’t seen in a long time. So I think the sharks have made a great choice. What many people don’t know is that he runs many successful businesses in and around durban too.

  • Comment 17, posted at 17.04.13 06:25:25 by shaniboi Reply

  • @shaniboi (Comment 17) : Like your comment dude all too true. A great leader always surrounds him/herself with very compitent assistants/luitenants..

  • Comment 18, posted at 17.04.13 11:22:40 by CLASSIC SHARK Reply

  • @shaniboi (Comment 17) :

    There are a number of high profile examples of entrepreneurs who founded and successfully ran their own businesses and there are off course many more cases of guys who tried and failed, but the key in those cases, and why they do not apply here, is that they founded the businesses themselves.

    First time CEOs of established organizations almost always are either guys who came through the ranks of the organization and thus have proven experience and familiarity with the business itself or come with a combination of degrees and business leadership experience that prove they are qualified.

    If John Smit has any of the above, then please enlighten us, but if he got the job based on little more than popularity and “aura”, then it’s a stupid gamble.

  • Comment 19, posted at 17.04.13 13:32:41 by fyndraai Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld

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