Harlequins conclude six-month search for new head coach with Tabai Matson

Harlequins will have a new head coach oversee the team’s defence of their Premiership title, after confirming Tabai Matson as the person who will succeed Paul Gustard.

General manager Billy Millard took control of first-team matters in January following the departure of Gustard early in the season.

And, while the Australian helped to master the team’s stunning turnaround to become Premiership champions for a second time, Harlequins have sought a new head coach which has seen Matson and Stormers head coach John Dobson considered.

Matson, who acted as head coach under Todd Blackadder at Bath, will lead the team’s coaching staff thats includes attack coach Nick Evans, scrum coach Adam Jones, lineout & defence coach Jerry Flannery, and skills coach Charlie Mulchrone.

Set to leave his role in charge of New Zealand U20s to move to the Stoop, Matson said: “I’m really excited to join Harlequins. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching them go from strength to strength this season from New Zealand.

“It has been great to see them play with smiles on their faces and with great skill and teamwork. To be crowned champions at Twickenham last weekend was a wonderful reward for the Club.

“I’m not coming to reinvent the wheel. This is a special team with some fantastic people and a great history. I’m incredibly excited to add to what this talented coaching team already has and keep pushing this side to new heights.

“Having spoken to Laurie, Billy, as well as the existing coaches, I know we are united in the belief that this is only the beginning for Harlequins. I strongly believe that staying true to our identity – the Quins DNA is critical to how we will reach our goals.”

Matson began his coaching career in Japan, before roles in Australia and New Zealand preceded his arrival at the Rec in 2016.

He left Blackadder’s staff to return to New Zealand and join the Chiefs prior to taking on the role of head coach of the Junior All Blacks.

“I’m delighted for us to announce that Tabai will be joining us ahead of the new season,” said Millard.

“We identified in the middle of last season that we were in need of extra resources in the coaching department, and left no stone unturned in the process of identifying the right person to fill that role. Tabai was the outstanding candidate.

“Tabai has experienced some high performing rugby environments both as player and coach and will add value to the fantastic coaching team we have here at The Stoop. He demonstrated that he understands what it takes to create and maintain a winning culture and how our identity is central to this”.

Commenting on Matson’s appointment, Harlequins chief executive Laurie Dalrymple said: “We’ve had a phenomenally successful season as a Club, and we can’t wait to see Tabai join us to take Harlequins a step further.

“Tabai will lead our four-man coaching team, while Billy’s role will now evolve into Director of Rugby Performance, overseeing all aspects of the performance side of the Club for our Men’s, Women’s and Academy teams as well as their support teams around them.

“It is important that our supporters understand that this is evolution, not revolution. They should feel assured that across the Club we are putting the building blocks in place to ensure that our exceptional success this season is repeated.

“We are focused on delivering growth in all areas of the Club and while the last year has been incredibly challenging on many levels, we now look ahead with huge optimism and excitement about where this iconic Club is going.

“We have an exceptionally talented and committed group of players, coaches and staff. Bringing in another experienced individual such as Tabai will only allow for further positive development of the Club.

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