Scotsman Clark Laidlaw was named New Zealand sevens coach Thursday in a surprise appointment as the team seeks to rebound from its failure at the Rio Olympics.

Laidlaw will become the first foreigner to coach the once dominant New Zealanders, who have lost their crown as the world’s best sevens team to Olympic gold medal winners Fiji.

But he will not take the reins until June next year in a compromise worked out with his current club London Irish, which he joined as assistant coach last year.

Laidlaw made clear that his brief was to improve on New Zealand’s performance in Rio, where they were among the favourites but finished a disappointing fifth.

“Everything is going to be geared towards bringing home gold from Tokyo in 2020,” he said.

Laidlaw played for Scotland’s sevens team and has previously worked as skills coach for the New Zealand sevens squad and an assistant at the Wellington Hurricanes Super Rugby franchise.

He replaces Gordon Tietjens, who quit after the Olympics and recently took up a job as Samoa’s sevens coach.

Former sevens players Scott Waldrom and Tomasi Cama will jointly coach the New Zealand team on an interim basis until Laidlaw takes over. – Agence France-Presse

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