Sharks facing coaching exodus?
SUPER RUGBY SPOTLIGHT: The Sharks appear to be set for a period of renewed upheaval, including a possible coaching exodus.
The troubled franchise, which has been in the news for all the wrong reasons this year, face the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday in a must-win Super Rugby Round 18 match – which could see them miss out on the play-offs, their worst finish since 2015.
@rugby365com has learnt that Sharks skills coach AB Zondagh will sign with French giants Stade Toulousain and join them at the conclusion of the Super Rugby season.
Toulouse faces ASM Clermont in the French Top 14 Final on Saturday.
The imminent departure of a seasoned and well-respected coach like Zondagh, who will join Toulouse as an assistant coach, could not have come at a worse time.
It could be the start of a much bigger exodus – including senior management and players.
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This comes at a time when head coach Robert du Preez is increasingly in the spotlight over contentious team selections – including having named his out-of-form son Robert junior at flyhalf ahead of the skilful and talented Curwin Bosch.
The twice-capped Springbok Bosch has been ruled out of the Newlands trip with an ankle injury, suffered in the loss to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires last week – leaving Du Preez in the frontline to salvage the team’s season.
On the player front, there has already been a host of confirmed departures.
Several Springboks are heading abroad at the end of the season – including Du Preez junior, hooker Armand van der Merwe and prop Coenie Oosthuizen (all to Sale Sharks in England).
Lock Ruan Botha has signed with London Irish, while the Du Preez twins, Jean-Luc and Dan, will also enjoy stints at the Sale Sharks in 2020.
At the other end of the Sharks’ departure scale, there is CEO Gary Teichmann, who is set to leave his post when his contract ends in September.
On the coaching front, the Sharks have a rather unique situation – which has become an untenable position – where the head coach has three sons in the team.
Closest to that is at the Lions, where head coach Swys de Bruin’s son Neil is the backs and skills coach for the Super Rugby team.
The contract of Robert du Preez senior is only up for renewal next year, but it is believed a ‘performance clause’ may give the Sharks an opportunity to end the ‘relationship’ and bring in a new head coach.
No doubt the news of Zondagh’s imminent departure will rock the team on the eve of such a crucial match as Saturday’s Newlands decider.
He is in his third season as the Sharks’ skills coach and has vast experience – including a previous consultancy stint as skills & attack coach at Toulouse.
Previously he had stints with the Border Bulldogs and Sharks Academy.
Zondagh has also been coaching junior teams and the Sharks XV in the domestic Challenge Cup competition.
He was appointed as skills coach at end of 2016.
By Jan de Koning