Ireland appoint John Plumtree as forwards coach

Kiwi will ‘add real value to the team’, according to head coach Joe Schmidt

The IRFU has appointed John Plumtree as forwards coach. Photograph: Stephen Barker/Inpho/Photosport

The IRFU has appointed John Plumtree as forwards coach. Photograph: Stephen Barker/Inpho/Photosport

 

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has turned to fellow Kiwi John Plumtree to fill the forwards coach role left vacant by the departure of Gert Smal.

The IRFU announced the appointment of the former Natal Sharks coach this morning and the 48-year-old will join the Irish coaching ticket in September.

“It’s great to have John joining us as part of the Irish coaching team,” said Schmidt today. “His proven success and broad experience across a number of competitions along with his ability to provide quality direction will add real value to the team.”

Plumtree is “really looking forward” to the challenge. “Having watched a number of recent test matches there are some really positive challenges in front of us. I’m conscious of the responsibility we have and will be working hard to play my part in driving the team forward.”

Plumtree, from Hawera in New Zealand, coached Swansea RFC to success in the Welsh League (1998) and Cup (1999), as well as the Welsh – Scottish League (2001). He then led the Wellington Lions to three play-off finals (2003, ‘04 and ‘06) in the New Zealand NPC, and guided the Natal Sharks to two Currie Cup victories (2008 and ‘10).

He was named South African Coach of the year in 2012 but was told in June this year that his contract would not be renewed after five years in the job.

A call from Schmidt followed soon afterwards and the Kiwi was quick to make up his mind.

“When I left the Sharks, Joe phoned me and asked if I’d consider being his forwards coach,” he told SARugbymag.co.za. “I said, yes, definitely, and flew up for an interview last week, which went very well, and I signed the contract today. Joe has had great success with Leinster and I’m looking forward to working with and learning from him.”

Plumtree felt the time was right for him to step up to International level, despite offers from clubs in New Zealand and the UK.

“I’ve coached at provincial and Super Rugby level, and this gives me the opportunity to take the step up to Test rugby. I’m really excited about the challenge. Ireland doesn’t have the depth of South Africa or New Zealand, but they have some good players. I’m looking forward to our end-of-year Tests against Samoa, the Wallabies and the All Blacks, and next year’s Six Nations.”

He and his family will arrive in Ireland soon and immediately go about settling back into life in the northern hemisphere.

“We were only planning on taking the kids out of school at the end of the year, but the school year in Ireland starts in September, so we’ve got to pull them out now,” Plumtree added. “The house is sold and the moving van’s in the driveway. That’s the life of a coach I guess. We’ve already spent some time in Wales [he coached Swansea from 1997-2001] and both my boys were born there, so I’m glad they’re going to get to experience that part of the world.”

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