Townsend among Lions coaching staff

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend will take charge of the British & Irish Lions’ attack as they confirmed their coaching staff for the tour of South Africa.

Townsend (Scotland), Robin McBryde (Leinster Rugby), Steve Tandy (Scotland) and Neil Jenkins (Wales) will assist Warren Gatland on the tour to the home of reigning world champions the Springboks, as well as the pre-Tour Test match against Japan at Murrayfield on Saturday, 26 June.

Scotland head coach Townsend will take charge of the Lions’ attack. This will be the first time the former Scotland flyhalf will have been part of a Lions coaching team, having previously toured South Africa triumphantly as a player in 1997.

Meanwhile, Tandy –  who is part of Townsend’s Scotland coaching set-up – will be responsible for the Lions’ defence. Ireland head coach Andy Farrell was set to continue in this role from the 2017 tour of New Zealand, but reportedly withdrew due to concerns of missing Ireland’s tour of the Pacific Islands in July.

Former Wales assistant coach McBryde, now an assistant coach at PRO14 club Leinster Rugby, will take responsibility of the forwards. McBryde will remain with Leinster until the conclusion of the season before joining up with Gatland.

Welsh kicking coach Jenkins will look after the kickers. This will be his sixth Tour as both a player and coach.

‘I am very pleased to have assembled such a high-quality coaching team,’ Gatland said. ‘It’s a really strong group and I’m excited to see what we can achieve together – I think we’ll all complement each other well in South Africa.

‘A Lions tour is a unique challenge, so it’s important to have some continuity in the coaching group. Neil understands the exceptional demands that only a Lions tour can present, and we will benefit from his knowledge and experience.

‘But it’s also important to have new voices and a fresh perspective. 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.

‘Obviously Robin is someone who I know very well from our time together in Wales. He is an impressive and experienced coach who continues to have success with Leinster. I think he’ll be well suited to the Lions environment and I am sure he will do an excellent job with the forwards.

‘As the tour approaches, we may look to bring in some extra resource, but this will be the core group for the time being.’

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