Plumtree should have been in SA coach running

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Some South African rugby identities are disappointed that Hurricanes coach, and former Springbok, John Plumtree has not featured more prominently in consideration for the head coaching role for the new world champions. senior writer Rob Houwing said Plumtree's name had been prominent in discussion in the days after World Cup winning coach Rassie Erasmus announced he was stepping back from his coaching role to take on his director of rugby position after the World Cup.


"As the Boks negotiated the knockout stages of RWC 2019 en route to the Webb Ellis Cup, the popular former Sharks player and coach was a fairly regular presence among SuperSport's studio guests, and playfully ribbed by celebrated recent Springboks around him both for his occasional references to 'we' in assessing South Africa, and over the fact that he had been linked with the Bok job that's up for grabs," Houwing said.


"Overwhelmingly, it appeared, figures like Jean de Villiers, Schalk Burger and Victor Matfield – all past Bok skippers – were receptive (or at least not noticeably averse) to the idea of Plumtree putting his hat in the ring, despite his heritage in the land of the old enemy, New Zealand."


Plumtree had a strong association with South Africa having spent 10 years in Durban, playing for Natal and then spending another six years on the Sharks coaching staff.


But since then he has been part of the Hurricanes coaching set up that claimed a Super Rugby title and which last year finished second to the Crusaders on the regular season points table before ending fourth as a result of the different playoff rules this year.


"Plumtree has a wealth of rugby knowledge (some of it from north of the equator, too), a calm head on his big shoulders, and would almost certainly have handled the public relations side of things with consistent ease and aplomb.


"He seems relatively ego-free, minimising the risk of major differences with Erasmus: instead you might only have teed up a great, cross-cultural meeting of fertile rugby minds with one, common purpose.


"What's more, there would have been no special cause, based on historical considerations, to fear that Plumtree would have been a dissenter – unlike someone like unashamedly conservative compatriot Laurie Mains in a Johannesburg role years back – over transformation requirements related to the Bok cause," he said.


Houwing said it was possible Plumtree might be drawn into the All Black picture, even if not necessarily in filling Steve Hansen's role.


"Plumtree perhaps now being out of the Bok race, for whatever reason, and bolstering the rebuilding All Blacks with his massive expertise, cultivated primarily in two of the very greatest rugby nations of them all?


"To me that somehow smacks of an unfortunate double negative, looking at it purely from a Bok perspective," he said.


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