ALAN-BASSON [AB] ZONDAGH has left the role of attack coach for the Scotland team after less than 18 months in the job, and less than a year out from the 2023 World Cup in France.
The South African, who was added to head coach Gregor Townsend’s backroom team ahead of the 2021 Autumn Nations Series, has been strongly linked with a move to French Top 14 side Lyon, as a replacement to their attack coach, Kenny Lynn, who is moving on at the end of the season.
It is not clear whether Scotland will seek to recruit a replacement for Zondagh, or whether Townsend, who specialises in attack, will seek to oversee that area himself. At this stage in the season/World Cup cycle, recruiting an individual of the requisite calibre will be tricky and expensive.
It seems unlikely that Mike Blair, who previously worked under Townsend in the international set-up before taking over from Richard Cockerill as head coach of Edinburgh in late summer 2021, will be brought back into the Scotland fold. The former scrum-half, who had a promising first season in charge of the capital club, has admitted that he is finding the current campaign challenging, but needs to be given an opportunity to fully develop in the role.
36-year-old Zondagh previously coached at the Sharks in his native South Africa, earning several promotions in skills and high performance roles between 2013 through to 2019, winning the Currie Cup on two occasions in 2016 and 2018.
His career began at the highly respected Rugby Performance Centre in South Africa in 2007 before coaching roles with the Border Bulldogs followed from 2012, leading on to the association with Sharks.
A short statement issued by Scottish Rugby said: “AB Zondagh has left his position as Scotland assistant coach for family reasons and to pursue opportunities. We wish him all the best and thank him for his contribution since joining in 2021.”
Meanwhile, French newspaper Midi Olympique has claimed that Townsend has put his name forward to replace Stade Francais bound Laurent Labit as France’s attack coach after next year’s World Cup, working under Fabien Galthié.
Townsend’s contract with the Scottish Rugby Union runs until the end of the tournament, and it seems he is ready to look towards a new challenge.
According to Midi Olympique, Galthié is understood to have wanted to appoint Pierre Mignoni, but he has reaffirmed his commitment to his current role as the head coach of Toulon.