Monday, 16 September, 2019

Lions name Warren Gatland as coach for 2021 SA tour

Warren Gatland Gatland led Wales to the Grand Slam in this year's Six Nations
Cary Erickson | 12 June, 2019, 22:55

Warren Gatland has categorically ruled out succeeding Eddie Jones as England coach and plans to return to his native New Zealand after leading the British and Irish Lions in 2021.

The New Zealander was on Wednesday confirmed as Lions coach for the third successive time after he led the tourists to Australia and New Zealand in 2013 and 2017 respectively.

'I think so, I would have done the (Lions tour) rounds, ' he said.

"I would love to be involved with Super Rugby and to challenge myself with that", he told the BBC.

"But one thing of reflecting back was the hospitality we had and the atmosphere of the games was incredible".

He added: "Having toured there in 2009 I know the scale of the task ahead of us - playing in South Africa presents a number of unique challenges such as playing at altitude, while the Boks will always be physical, aggressive and highly motivated".

Gatland's appointment - two years before the tour of South Africa - is a coup for the Lions given his standing within world rugby.

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Gatland will relinquish his role as Wales boss after the World Cup in Japan later this year and will start his official Lions duties in August 2020.

But Wales Online reported Pivac and coaching assistants Stephen Jones and Jonathan Humphreys will join the WRU payroll next month.

The Lions lost the 2009 series to the Springboks 2-1.

"There were parts of the New Zealand tour that were incredibly challenging. But two years is a long time and you never know what's going to happen in the game".

'From my experience one of the biggest things to try and achieve on a Lions tour is that it is not about what you do on the field, but what you do off the field, ' he continued.

"The planning and scheduling hasn't been finalised yet and negotiations are under way with how much time we'll have together before we go away as a group on the tour". I have been extremely privileged to be involved and this will be my fourth tour.

Gatland has been coaching in the north for almost three decades. But while the coach is no doubt this Lions tour will be his last, he is yet to lay down any concrete plans.