AB Zondagh leaves Scotland assistant coach role

Gregor Townsend linked to position with the French national team after World Cup

AB Zondagh lasted only 18 months as Scotland assistant coach. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
AB Zondagh lasted only 18 months as Scotland assistant coach. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

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.

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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.

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About David Barnes 3537 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Within a day of this article, there is speculation in the Press that GT has applied to take the position of attack coach with the French international team after the World Cup. I see the potential for a Win/Win situation here.

    Could this not happen before the World Cup ? It would enhance Scotland’s prospects and simultaneously reduce France’s.

  2. Townsend at least is accepting his natural level as an assistant. Pity it comes after 8 years of maintaining the pretence that he knew what he was doing.

  3. Unless there is someone good looking for a job before the world cup I’d be tempted to let Russell run the attack for the 6 nations and then maybe ask Franco Smith to double hat for the world cup. Suspect though that Townsend will take it on.

  4. Eighteen months as a national coach? He would have got a long service award if he had been coaching under Eddie Jones!

  5. When he was appointed I recall thinking it was good that Townsend was relinquishing some of the control he had on attack and could focus on the bigger picture.

    Can’t in all honesty say that things appear to have improved too much during Zondagh’s time, although it may be unfair to pin that on him.

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