Gatland to coach Wales to 2019 World Cup

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has signed a new deal that will see him remain in charge until after the 2019 World Cup.

The New Zealander, who was appointed in 2007, will become the first coach to take Wales to three World Cups, having already taken charge of their 2011 campaign, and with his contract now covering the 2015 and 2019 competitions.

It caps an excellent few weeks for Gatland, who has recently been awarded BBC Sports Personality Coach of the Year, as well as the Wales Sport Awards’ Coach of the Year. He also won UK Coach of the Year at the Sports Coach UK Awards.

Gatland said of the announcement: “I am proud and delighted to have been chosen by the Welsh Rugby Union to take charge of Wales teams for the next two Rugby World Cup tournaments. I have chosen to stay in Wales because of my confidence in the players we have, the coaching structures we have developed and the succession plan of talent we now constantly update. I know the other major rugby nations take us seriously as opponents who can play excellent rugby and that inspires me to take this group of players even further.

“There is an incredible amount of hard work ahead but, with the backing of the Welsh Rugby Union, the national squad now has the means to deliver what the Welsh public want. We have strong support systems, the international player pathway structure and the WRU National Centre of Excellence is a fantastic facility. Our best players now get developed within a totally professional structure and the backroom team we have in place boasts some of the best people around in their areas of expertise.

“I want to personally thank the WRU and the Welsh rugby public for the fantastic support the national squad enjoys and I aim to return the compliment by devoting all my professional energy to the success of our national team in the years ahead. I am looking forward to the challenge and I am extremely proud of the honour I have in taking Wales into the next two Rugby World Cups.”

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

34 thoughts on “Gatland to coach Wales to 2019 World Cup

  1. Good news. As a mate of mine said on Twitter, the only difference between us and Scotland is Warren Gatland.

    1. My word I cannot believe I’m saying this but totally disagree (I hope you were being sarcastic) Wales are far better than Scotland, just look at The Lions squad how many welsh players compared to Scottish and it doesn’t have to do with biase. Although I don’t think they’ll win the next World Cup it is far more realistic to set the target of winning it that than the Scots!

      1. I am not so comfortable. Our regions are bankrupt and we have a very small talent pool – that’s our similarities to Scotland. I think the results before Gatland indicate how bad this same set of players can be if not well coached.

    2. I think your mate needs a reality check Brighty. If you want to see the real difference between Wales and Scotland try a drive from Edinburgh to Glasgow or Dundee and count the number of rugby posts you see, then do the same from Cardiff to, well just about anywhere. There simply isn’t the same rugby following in Scotland. Alternatively if you don’t want to waste the petrol just read any popular rugby blog during the 6 nations and check out which nations have the most posters!

      Gatland is undoubtedly a good coach but signing him up until 2019 is a big risk. He will have been in post 12 years by then. With very few exceptions such as Alex Fergerson coaches tend to be out of ideas or over committed to established players after 5, 6 or 7 years and new blood is often required. I don’t say that will happen with Gatland but it’s definitley a risk. It would have been sensible for the WRU to have waited at least until they see if Wales will get out of the pool stages of the World Cup which even a welsh supporter must see is not a forgone conclusion.

      1. Ray, I concede that we have a strong amateur game. Scotland also does in the borders. The problem is that without some sort of resolution soon we will be left with an amateur domestic game and our national side. This will block pathways for progression of our youngsters and leave us with the Scottish problem – not enough people playing rugby at a high enough level.

        1. Wouldn’t you agree it’s the amateur game that provides the vitality for the sport and underpins everything. That generates the spectators, the subscribers and ultimately the cash. If, heaven forbid, the professional game did die in Wales I don’t think it would effect the national team too much. The likes of Gloucester, bath, Bristol, exeter maybe even London Welsh would simply extend their academies into wales. Eventually one or two of the stronger Welsh clubs would fight there way in. Clubs/regions come and go but the amateur bedrock is permanent.

      2. Any coaching appointment is a risk but a guy with the following is less risk than most:
        – 3 Premiership titles
        – An ‘Amlin’ cup win
        – An HC cup win
        – An ITM cup win
        – 3 6 nations titles (2 grand slams) in 6 years
        – A narrow defeat in a RWC semi final with 14 men and Adam Jones injured.
        – A lions test series win

        Not a guarantee of continued success, but I think WRU will see this a a bit of a coup.

        The RFU gambling on a novice coach who’s biggest achievement as a coach is winning the Churchill Cup is a far bigger risk, especially going into a home world cup where success could attract a whole new level of interest and participation in the game and failure …. well don’t want to contemplate it.

        1. Mostly true Matt but the whole point is not Gatland v some other coach which, as far as I know is not on the agenda, nor WRU v RFU which is irrelevant. It’s all about commiting to THIS coach now for a further 6 years and excluding the possibility that at some point in the future a change of coach might be desirable but has been made very very difficult.

          1. Understand the point, but I’m sure the risk they are mitigating is Mourad Boudjellal (or someone of his ilk) coming in with a ridiculous amount of money and Wales losing a coach they want to keep. If they want to get rid of him at some stage I’m sure there will be termination clauses on performance and they can pay him off.

            Chiefs should get Baxter on a 6 year deal …. at least they can ask the RFU for a decent compensation deal post 2015 :-)

            1. As and when England come calling, or anyone else, Baxter won’t be tempted by money his roots are too deep but, if he believed he could make a difference he might be tempted by the challenge. I doubt the club would want to stand in his way. However Exeter is probably the best run club in GB consistently profitable despite being probably the smallest club. I think we can safely assume chiefs will be a match for the RFU. Replacing him however? I don’t see any candidates!

  2. Must admit I’m surprised. I was convinced he’d take the AB job post-2015.

    Does this make him the likely Lions coach again for 2017? I’d rather not.

  3. No doubt a large part of him taking the job was the promise of 6-12 months off again. Whether that makes him the likely candidate I don’t know. Curious – why wouldn’t you want him to be? We won?

    1. I assume he has a sabbatical clause within the contract.

      And we did win, but there are still wide parts of the tour I don’t agree with. Still selections I massively disagree with. Phillips and Lydiate are the two I have real issues with.

      Not wanting to drag up our summer debates of Gatlands Welsh bias, which I don’t think he had, there is no doubting that when it got tight, he went with the players he knew best. Phillips was woeful all tour and did not justify selection for the last test, then played even worse in the game (people may forget because we won, but I haven’t). Lydiate as well I thought was poor, although I know we’l never agree there.

      I personally would rather see a coach come from none of the national teams, whilst knowing the British players on some level. I know that is hard to find, but I think that’s the ideal scenario. However much he’d have tried, Gatland could not and would not have been completely subjective in team selection; he knows the Welsh players far better.

      1. I can see your point, and agree that he probably went with what he knew when the chips were down, but only when he was choosing between two/three players he thought could do the job – he never chose a player he knew was worse.

        For me “we won” outweighs it all. It’s a short one-off tour with the aim being to come home with the trophy. I disagree (and you haven’t said this, but some do) that any quota on number of players from each nation is important; I disagree that style of win is important. For me only one thing is important for the Lions and that is to win. He did that so I think he’d be ok to do it again. I’d rather he didn’t but that is because I would rather he was free to coach Wales.

        It’s interesting to see him re-sign in the current climate when he is not going to have the player access he was used to. That intrigues me – does it not matter to him or has RogerDodger managed to convince him that a solution is on the horizon?

        1. I agree that it’s a win at all costs tour, and I personally could not care less whether it was a Welsh XV that went out, they were all Lions as far as I’m concerned.

          I have the same issue when Woodward did the same thing back in ’05 – obviously he lost miserably so less comparable.

          If he was named coach again, I certainly would not be up in arms about it. I just hope that it already had not been agreed, as there is a lot of rugby between now and 2017.

  4. I would think Wales would want a new voice after the World Cup. Gatland has built a good team with great players, but the lack of success against southern hemisphere teams is a huge issue. If Wales doesn’t perform in the World Cup, I definitely think Wales needs to bring in another coach who can build on Gatland’s success and get them over the hump.

    I find this to be a little premature.

  5. Good coach, with a good coaching team and excellent group of players. Why wouldn’t he want to re sign. Does need to get the SH monkey off the players backs though.

        1. Yeah, agree with that. A good wingman, intelligent voice in your ear, but the pressure of head coach did not look to sit comfortably with him.

          1. He may improve with a bit of a run though. He was technically in charge in last years AIs and 6Ns and things definitely did improve over time. Not bad for his first stint as head coach. He needs more head coach experience though – hope he doesn’t just step up and replace Gats when he goes.

  6. Don’t want him coaching the lions though. To be consistent I don’t want any of the national coaches doing it.

    1. I’m happy for him to do the job again ….. but I would like to see more diversity in the coaching team. Including one of the Irish coaches is essential and a Scottish one desirable.

      None of the coaches under Gatland this time round are good candidates to step up and lead the next tour. It’s the hardest coaching job in rugby, especially as the preparation time is now so short, I can’t think of a better candidate.

      1. I think trying to spread the coaching role around more coaches would be a failure. It’s already hard enough to get the players to gel without having a load of unfamiliar coaches needing to do the same. I thought a good balance was struck even if he did take the wrong backs/skills coach – for that I’d have rather seen the Irish coaches than the English ones. But we won the series so my opinion on that is secondary to Gats’s.

        Whoever gets the coaching job, at some point they are going to have to drop player A for player B and then player A’s fans will, if past experience is anything to go by, go mental. Add in the potential for player B’s country to dominate selection and it’s always a recipe for certain fans to just turn it all into an extension of country animosity rather than “four nations into one”.

        It still tickles me that this was the Lions tour when loads of people were talking about the tradition of the Lions being shot because of the lack of player diversity when those same players have played in Lions teams made up of sometimes 2 countries, not 4. Double standards Mr Keith Wood.

        1. Agree it’s a balancing act (the coaches do get a lot more time together though), it’s tough to be 100% objective when your coaching team has years of history with some players and just a few weeks with others.

          Include an Irish coach somewhere in the mix and >90% of the players have some ‘representation’ in selection meetings and decisions on how to get the best out of them.

          1. To be flippant for a mo – would you really want (if you went for an Irish coach) someone who’s had the likes of BOD, O’Connel, etc. for years. Players from three European dominant teams. And only returned one title win and not made the semi’s of a WC ever?

            1. Didn’t say I wanted Kidney involved!

              We had a sizeable Irish contingent on tour on merit, but I’m not sure we had coaches who understood how to get the best out of them.

              If Gatland did take the job in 2017 then he could do a lot worse then looking at someone like Matt O’Connor to join the team.

          2. It’s disappointing to see pleas for national representation already. Quotas for coaches being even worse than players, it’s vital that a coaching team share an approach otherwise mixed messages will be sent out to the troops. Imagine if there had been an Irish coach in Australia when BOD was dropped and even normally sensible irish commentators flipped despite all the evidence and conflicting opinion.

            The only way is to choose a coach for right or wrong and let him choose his team. If there are players needing special handling to ‘get the best out of them’ then the coaching team should consider ommitting them from the squad. For me, the nationalistic bickering last time devalued the concept.

            1. Completely agree with you here Ray, quotas devalue the concept of the Lions.

              But, what I would say is that having a national coach take the Lions will cause controversy. I don’t blame Gatland for opting with the guys he knows best, it makes sense. What I would say though, is that ideally a coach will come from outside of the nations coaching staff at that point.

              1. Interesting thought – who would you pick if all past/present B&I national coaches were ruled out of all positions?

                Head coach – ???
                Backs coach – Cheika, if he wanted it
                Forwards coach – Dale Mcintosh
                Kicking coach – Jonny

                1. Interesting, and extremely difficult.

                  I would not be against the other members of the coaching staff being from the national set ups, just not the head coach.

                2. Logically you’d have to exclude B&I club coaches as well since they could be accussed of the same bias/blinkers. Guess we’re looking for a Frenchman, now there’s a thought! we might even find someone with international experiance including beating the All Blacks. :-D

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