Townsend to be Lions' attack coach in South Africa

London (AFP) –


Warren Gatland said the British and Irish Lions would benefit from "new voices" as he unveiled a backroom staff on Tuesday featuring Scotland boss Gregor Townsend as attack chief for the upcoming tour of South Africa.

Steve Tandy, Robin McBryde and Neil Jenkins will also form part of Gatland's coaching team

There are no members of Eddie Jones' England staff among the Lions coaches, with no Englishmen involved at all in coaching the squad after Andy Farrell, Steve Borthwick and Graham Rowntree were all unable to take part.

For Townsend, Scotland defence coach Tandy and former Wales forwards coach McBryde, now with Leinster, it will be their first tour as part of the Lions coaching team, with Wales great Jenkins in his fourth tour as kicking coach.

Former Scotland playmaker Townsend, however, starred as a player for the Lions during their victorious 1997 tour of South Africa.

Both Townsend and Tandy have been appointed following a notable Six Nations for Scotland in which they won away to both England and France.

"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," said Gatland in a Lions statement.

Former Wales boss Gatland led the Lions to a series win in Australia in 2013 and a drawn series in his native New Zealand four years later.

But while acknowledging the value of Jenkins' experience, he added: "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."

Turning to Tandy, Gatland said: "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."

Townsend said he was looking forward to working with some of the best players in the four Home Unions that comprise the Lions.

"To be involved as a player and now as a coach is truly humbling," he said.

"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."

The Lions are planning to go ahead with a tour of South Africa despite the coronavirus pandemic.

But an original schedule consisting of a June warm-up against Japan in Edinburgh and an eight-match July-August tour featuring three Tests against the world champion Springboks could be revised.