John Plumtree

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John Plumtree
Birth nameJohn Cyril Plumtree
Date of birth (1965-07-16) 16 July 1965 (age 53)
Place of birthHawera, New Zealand
SchoolHawera High School
Lara Plumtree (m. 2000)
Rugby union career
Position(s) Lock, Flanker
Provincial / State sides
Years Team Apps (Points)
Hawke's Bay
National sevens team(s)
Years Team Comps
1994–1995 South Africa 2
Teams coached
Years Team
Sharks (assistant)
Hurricanes (assistant)
Japan (assistant)
Correct as of 19 February 2019

John Plumtree is the current forwards coach for the Hurricanes and is the former head coach of the Sharks, a rugby union team which competes in the Super Rugby and Currie Cup competitions. As a player Plumtree won two Currie Cup medals with the Sharks (1990, 1996); and as a coach he guided the Sharks to Currie Cup wins in 2008 and 2010. [2]

Playing career[edit]

Plumtree was born on 16 July 1965 in Hawera, Taranaki. Plumtree and Lions coach John Mitchell were born and grew up in the same town, however, they only got to know one another later as players and coaches.[2][3] Plumtree attended Hawera High School from 1976 to 1980.[4]

Playing as a flanker in his native New Zealand, Plumtree represented Taranaki in the NPC 40 times, debuting in 1985. In 1989 he was selected to participate in trials for the All Blacks team.[5]

Plumtree relocated to Durban, home of his South African wife.[6] Reflecting on this move he later told the New Zealand Herald: "I did not want to get caught being a young rugby player in a small town for a long time. I thought if I got out of Hawera for a little while another door might open up." So he accepted the opportunity to play for Durban High School Old Boys RFC, home to quite a number of overseas players at the time. These included Murray Mexted, Mike Teague, Chris Butcher, Martin Whitcombe and Peter Winterbottom.[7][8]

In 1988 Plumtree was selected by the then Sharks coach, Ian McIntosh.[8] MacIntosh would later coach South Africa's national rugby union team, the Springboks. From 1988 to 1997 Plumtree played 80 matches for the Sharks, winning two Currie Cup medals (1990, 1996).[2] In 1992, he briefly returned to New Zealand to play 14 games for Hawke's Bay.[1][2][5]

In 1994 Plumtree was selected for South Africa's Sevens side, and played two tournaments in Hong Kong.[5][9]

Coaching career[edit]

According to the BBC, Plumtree was an assistant coach with the Crusaders Rugby Club in North Durban, helping them win "three successive Natal titles and the South African club championship in 1994-95".[10]

After retiring as a player, Plumtree coached the Swansea Rugby Football Club in Wales for five seasons, winning the Welsh Cup (1999), the Welsh League (1998), and the Welsh-Scottish League (2001).[2] He is credited with "discovering" Gavin Henson while he was with Swansea.[5][6]

In 2001 he returned to New Zealand, briefly acting as video analyst for Mitchell, the All Black coach at the time, working in a team that included Robbie Deans, the New Zealander who coached the Australian national team until the series defeat by the 2013 British and Irish Lions.[6] Video analysis was in its infancy, and Plumtree was frustrated by the buggy nature of the system. He later confessed that while he learned a lot from Mitchell and Deans, "video analysis wasn't my thing."[8]

Subsequently Plumtree was appointed coach for the Wellington Lions, a NPC team. Under his management, the Lions reached the final playoffs in 2003, 2004 and 2006.[2][11]

Plumtree returned to South Africa after he found that he was not to be given a New Zealand side in the Super Rugby tournament. Despite his success with Wellington, he was not appointed to guide the Wellington-based Hurricanes, as had been expected [6]

A spell as temporary head coach of the Sharks in 2007 was followed by a stint as assistant to Super 14 coach Dick Muir. Plumtree and Muir had been team mates at the Sharks during their playing days. Plumtree replaced assistant coach Theo Oosthuizen.[12]

Plumtree was appointed head coach of the Sharks in 2008. He successfully coached the Sharks to their first Currie Cup win since 1996, for which he was named the 2008 Absa Coach of the Year.[2][13]

Under Plumtree the Sharks had again reached the top of the Currie Cup log by September 2009.[14] In August 2009 the Sharks' coach received the Coach of the Month award from Currie Cup sponsors Absa.[15]

The 2010 season was not off to a good start after a terrible Super 14 season for the Sharks however in the shadow of the abysmal performance, the 2010 Currie Cup season was highly successful for Plumtree as the Sharks won the 2010 ABSA Currie Cup.

In 2013 he was confirmed as Forwards Coach for the Ireland national team, working alongside new Head Coach Joe Schmidt.[16]

In the 2015 season Plumtree became the assistant coach of the Hurricanes Super 15 franchise with Chris Boyd being the head coach.[17]


  1. ^ a b These data are mostly from the Sharks' website, which conflicts to some degree with information available elsewhere. Swansea RFU's website records that Plumtree played 15 games for Hawke's Bay. The International Rugby Academy lists 90 games for the Sharks, and different starting dates: 1986 for Taranaki, and 1989 for Natal.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Coaching Profile: John Plumtree.[permanent dead link] The Sharks Website. Retrieved on 5 September 2009.
  3. ^ Mitchell swims with the Sharks Archived 9 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine., 2009. Retrieved on 5 September 2009.
  4. ^ Hawera High School. Retrieved on 9 September 2009.
  5. ^ a b c d John Plumtree.[permanent dead link] Swansea RFC. Retrieved on 6 September 2009.
  6. ^ a b c d Investec Super 14: Recap of Round 8 Preview. ARU, 2 April 2009. Retrieved on 5 September 2009.
  7. ^ "Durban High School Old Boys: A club that has served rugby in KZN with destinction in KZN." (sic). Archived 4 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine KZN Club Rugby Website. Retrieved on 5 September 2009.
  8. ^ a b c Rattue, Chris (11 April 2009). "Rugby: Q&A with Sharks coach John Plumtree". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
  9. ^ Specialist Coaches: John Plumtree. Archived 7 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine International Rugby Academy. Retrieved on 5 September 2009.
  10. ^ Plumtree leaves Swansea. BBC Sport Website, 2001, Retrieved on 5 September 2009.
  11. ^ Coaches: John Plumtree (2003–06).[permanent dead link] Wellington Rugby Football Union. Retrieved on 5 September 2009.
  12. ^ "Plumtree to assist Sharks". Television New Zealand. 1 August 2006. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
  13. ^ De Villiers named SA's best. 25 November 2008. Retrieved on 5 September 2009.
  14. ^ Absa Currie Cup Logs.[permanent dead link] Supersport Website. Retrieved on 5 September 2009.
  15. ^ Plumtree and Nel scoop awards.[permanent dead link] Retrieved on 5 September 2009.
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 August 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-31.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "Plumtree assists at Hurricanes". Retrieved 4 April 2015.