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Cardiff lure South African forwards guru to Wales

TRANSFER NEWS: South African coach Corniel van Zyl will join the Welsh United Rugby Championship region Cardiff ahead of the 2024-25 season.

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The highly-rated forwards coach is currently assisting Ealing Trailfinders following the collapse of London Irish where he had held a similar role since 2021.

Prior to that, the South African had spent more than five years with Cheetahs, competing in Super Rugby and the then PRO14 (now United Rugby Championship).

During his playing days, the lock spent the majority of his career with Benetton, where he amassed more than 150 appearances. He qualified for Italy on residency and was named in the Azzurri’s 2011 World Cup squad.

He hung up his boots in 2015, and quickly began coaching back with the Cheetahs, where he began playing.

Now with almost a decade’s coaching experience under his belt, he is looking forward to beginning a new chapter in the Welsh capital.

“I’m really excited to link up with Cardiff next season and it’s something we as a family are really looking forward to,” Van Zyl said.

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“Cardiff has such a rich history in the rugby world, so it’s great to have the chance to make a difference to the club.

“It’s also a city I am pretty familiar with and have always enjoyed both during my playing days and as a coach. We would always stay in Cardiff regardless of where we were playing in Wales. It has a great vibe, which can be really busy but also very chilled out and relaxed.

“I’ve had some really good conversations with Matt, who was very open and honest about the current situation at the club and vision moving forward. That’s always a good start. We have a good connection and I feel like there is a lot of alignment in the way we both see the game.

“It really excites me to come to Cardiff after this journey in the Premiership and Championship, which is another different test of your coaching skills.

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“The URC is always a brilliant challenge because you play in so many different countries and against so many different playing styles.

“I’ve seen a fair bit of Cardiff this season and while results haven’t gone their way you can see they always fight right until the very end and that is a sign of a very good group.

“It’s also really exciting to have such a talented pool of young players coming through and the opportunity to help mould them into world-class players.

“I’m also very grateful to Ealing Trailfinders and if it wasn’t for them I probably wouldn’t have this opportunity. What happened at London Irish was really tough but after a short break, I had the chance to go to Ealing to continue coaching and work with a group of players, who you naturally become fond of.

“I’m hoping we can finish the season on a high before moving onto this next challenge with Cardiff.”

*Picture credit: @ealingtfrugby

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