Gregor Townsend has moved swiftly to secure the services of one of Europe’s top attack coaches for his Scotland management team in Toulouse’s AB Zondagh.
The South African was the attack brains behind the side that won the European Cup and French Top 14 double last season. He replaces Mike Blair, who is now head coach at Edinburgh, as assistant coach with responsibility for attack.
The 35-year old formerly coached the Sharks in South Africa. He joined the French giants as a consultant in 2018. He became an assistant coach focusing on kicking, attack and skills development a year later.
Townsend still keen to delegate to specialists
The move shows that Townsend, after a summer with the Lions, is still keen to delegate and appoint specialists rather than take on the attack brief himself after the departure of Blair.
“Mike has developed into an excellent coach. He made a really positive contribution to the environment and improvement of the playing group in recent years,” said the head coach. “I know all the Scotland management team wish him well in his new role at Edinburgh.”
“We are delighted to secure such a high-quality replacement for Mike and to bring AB in. It is much appreciated that his current employers, Toulouse, have granted him an early release to come on board with us.
“AB has already had an impressive coaching career in two very different rugby nations. I believe that these experiences, and his approach to coaching, will help us and our players make further progress as we build towards the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
“The Autumn Test Series is just around the corner. This will give our players and management team an opportunity to work with, and learn from, a new coach that has just worked at the highest level of European club rugby.
“AB will also be available as a skills resource coach for Edinburgh and Glasgow as well as with players at Academy level.”
‘So much rugby history and culture’
💬 “It was a no-brainer really and I am looking forward to adding value to the group"@ABZondagh has been added to the @Scotlandteam management team as an assistant coach with a focus on attack 🏴https://t.co/p92pmb3Vg0
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) August 31, 2021
Zondagh said: “I am honoured to be a part of a team with so much history and a rich rugby culture.
“I see this as a massive opportunity to work with Gregor and the other Scotland coaches and one that I am very excited to take. It was a no-brainer really. I am looking forward to adding value to the group and the positive rugby the team play.
“I know rugby at that level comes with high pressure. That is why we coach because we enjoy the pressure and enjoy winning.
“I’ll be moving my family to Scotland. I think it is important to know the people, the history, feel the energy, making connections which get results and build relationship with everyone in the organisation.”
Scotland have four tests this autumn, starting with Tonga on October 30. That game is outside the international release window and likely to feature home based players only.
There follows tests against Australia (November 7), world champions South Africa (November 13) and Japan (November 20).