Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

Griffiths backs Smit for Sharks post

Saracens hooker John Smit, pictured, has reportedly been lined up to replace Brian van Zyl as CEO of The Sharks

The appointment of World Cup-winning captain John Smit as chief executive of South African franchise The Sharks would be "outstanding" and "a great step forward" for rugby in the country.

That is the view of Edward Griffiths, the former South Africa Rugby Union chief executive who is now in charge of Aviva Premiership club Saracens. Smit, the Saracens hooker, has reportedly been lined up to replace the retiring Brian van Zyl as CEO of the Durban-based outfit at the end of the current season.

The Sharks board of directors meet next Monday and Griffiths would welcome Smit's appointment as a progressive move for the game in South Africa, and he told Press Association Sport: "If that was to come about it would be an outstanding appointment."

He added: "It would also be a great step forward for South African rugby to bring into a leading administrative position somebody who has recently retired from the game.

"That hasn't been the pattern in South African rugby. In fact, it hasn't really been the pattern in rugby anywhere because rugby can be a game where the upper echelons of administration are clogged up by, for want of a better word, blazers.

"I think it would be a breath of fresh air for South African rugby and big step forward."

Smit won 111 caps for the Springboks, captaining his country to their World Cup triumph in 2007 and to their series victory over the British and Irish Lions two years later.

Griffiths believes the qualities Smit displayed in leading South Africa to such heights on the field will make him an ideal leader off it.

"Every business, every club is essentially about communication and bringing people together behind common goals," Griffiths said. "He has proven with the Springboks and others that he is brilliantly skilled at that. He is an individual of the very highest quality.

"Whether you are talking about an international bank or a rugby club, any organisation would be in good hands if it was led by John Smit."

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