Townsend ‘humbled’ by Lions coaching role
Role: Gregor Townsend (pic: SNS Group)
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend and assistant coach (defence) Steve Tandy have been named in Warren Gatland’s coaching group for the 2021 British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa.
Townsend took up his current Scotland role in 2017, from which time he has guided Scotland to a number of notable wins, including away victories against Wales and Australia, as well as a first Calcutta Cup success against England at Twickenham in 38 years and first Scottish win in Paris since 1999 during this year’s Guinness Six Nations.
The Scotland head coach, who has been named as attack coach, won 82 caps for Scotland and represented the famous red Lions jersey in 1997, playing stand-off in the first two Tests in Cape Town and Durban as the squad, under Ian McGeechan and Jim Telfer, pulled off an iconic 2-1 series victory over the then world champions.
Townsend made six appearances during that successful 1997 Tour of South Africa, scoring two tries against the Sharks and Northern Transvaal and he said: “To be involved as a player and now as a coach is truly humbling.
“The Springboks are a formidable opponent on home turf, but looking at the talent in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, it is a hugely exciting opportunity for us to do something special.
“One of the great challenges of a Lions Tour is to bring together players from four different countries, in a short space of time, and create an attacking threat that will cause the opposition problems. It’s something I am already looking forward to.”
Tandy joined the Scotland coaching set-up ahead of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations having previously enjoyed a six-year spell with Ospreys, with whom he won the 2012 PRO12, and immediately helped to develop a defence that has since proved miserly, with Scotland conceding the fewest tries in the 2020 championship (5) and joint-fewest (10) in this year’s competition.
He said: “To take on the world champions in their own backyard is a massive test and one I am really looking forward to being part of. There have been some brilliant Lions defence coaches in the past – Andy Farrell, Shaun Edwards and Phil Larder – so it’s a huge honour to be chosen.
“From a defence perspective we need to make sure we get everyone on the same page as quickly as possible.
“I am sure Gregor and I will benefit greatly from this experience and gain valuable knowledge about the Springboks ahead of the Rugby World Cup in two years’ time.”
Gatland said: “Gregor is doing an excellent job in charge of Scotland and is an outstanding coach. He also understands the challenges of touring South Africa as a player and what it takes to win there, so I am extremely happy he will be part of the set-up.
“Steve has made Scotland’s defence one of the most organised in world rugby – something we saw throughout the recent Six Nations. He’s clearly an intelligent coach and someone I am very much looking forward to working with.”