In the latest of a series of coaching moves made in recent weeks, the national coaching setup has received a shot in the arm ahead of the upcoming Guinness 6 Nations.
Long standing Glasgow/Scotland defence coach Matt Taylor will, as recently rumoured, join Dave Rennie’s new Wallabies management team.
We already know Danny Wilson will exit his role as national forwards coach next summer to take over at Glasgow. His replacement forwards coach is not yet known, but with Taylor leaving “with immediate effect” (ie Toony’s found a replacement so they can finally announce it) there is now a role to be filled before February.
That role will be filled by former Ospreys head honcho Steve Tandy.
Before you leaf too closely through the Ospreys recent form and worry that Scotland seems to be constantly scouring castoffs from the Welsh regions for coaches, it’s worth taking into account the improvements last year in the NSW Waratahs defence under Tandy, as well as an impressive record as a coach (before the malaise really set in).
He took on his role at Ospreys after Scott Johnson departed their organisation, (so plus ca change) then led them to a PRO12 win in 2012 as well as regular playoff spots in the years that changed and was recently described as “one of British rugby’s coaching pioneers” by Gavin Mairs of The Telegraph following his decison to make an educational move down under.
In short, despite lacking international experience he’s no castoff and the Ospreys themselves would probably love him back given the horrific mess they find themselves in currently.
With Scotland’s defence all too porous in recent seasons, the Welshman will be aiming to make his Waratahs “blue wall” defence a couple of shades darker when he swaps Sydney for up at BT Murrayfield.
A Scotland side that doesn’t leak tries would suffer far fewer emotional/psychological setbacks, which would probably make them that bit more patient in attack. It’s very welcome news, but the only hope is that he has enough time to plug the leaks given the tournament begins very soon.
Another thing Scotland have lacked since Massimo Cuttita left in 2015 is a dedicated scrum coach, and they will also have one of those available on a short term “consultancy” basis in the form of former France prop Pieter de Villiers. South African born de Villiers earned 69 caps for France including four Six Nations titles and appearances at two World Cups.
He was a specialist coaching consultant with South Africa between 2012 and 2015 and was set to work under eventual World Cup winner Rassie Erasmus in 2018 before requesting a release from those duties on family grounds and has also worked as a coach with Stade Francais.
It’s another excellent appointment and could make the propping talent available to Townsend really shine come scrum time. If it helps bring on some of the looseheads too that would be nice. The only question is: why hasn’t there been a specialist in the role before now?
In other coaching news, it was also announced this week that rated former Ulster and current Gloucester attack coach Jonny Bell will join Danny Wilson’s Glasgow set up next season. Jason O’Halloran will move on to parts unknown. That completes the Glasgow setup with Kenny Murray, John Dalziel and Petrus du Plessis remaining in place.