South African Rugby
Sharks appoint Smit as their new CEO
ESPN Staff
April 16, 2013
The Sharks' John Smit rallies his side, Crusaders v Sharks, Super Rugby Qualifier, Trafalgar Park, Nelson, New Zealand, June 25, 2011
John Smit will return to the Sharks at the end of the season © Getty Images

Former South Africa captain John Smit has been appointed the Sharks' new chief executive taking up his new role on July 1.

Smit captained the Springboks to the World Cup in 2007 and also skippered the side to a series win over the British & Irish Lions in 2009. He has experienced a long and distinguished playing career with the Sharks, Clermont Auvergne and Saracens and is the Boks' most-capped player with 111 appearances to his name.

But come the end of the season, Smit will leave his current side Sarries to return to South Africa. There were suggestions that Smit was set to join Toulon on a one-year deal but the lure of his old club has proved to be too much.

Smit will take over the reins from their current CEO Brian van Zyl, who has held the role for nearly 20 years, and he will mentor the hooker until February 28, 2014 - the date on which Van Zyl will retire. The Sharks chairman Stephen Saad paid tribute to the outgoing CEO saying: "In the past two 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.

"John Smit's appointment marks the dawn of a new and exciting era at The Sharks. We look forward to welcoming the favourite son of South African Rugby to his new role as CEO."

Van Zyl added: "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 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."

Smit commented on Twitter: "Massive thanks for all the positive feedback regarding my new role as CEO starting 1 July, I have huge boots to fill after the incredible job BJ VanZyl has done the last 19 years. Looking forward to an exciting future, Sharks Forever!!!"

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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