Warren Gatland has been officially announced as the British & Irish Lions head coach for their tour to South Africa in 2021.
The appointment was confirmed on Wednesday, with Gatland retaining the job after coaching the Lions to a series victory over the Wallabies in 2013 and a drawn series with the All Blacks in 2017.
It will be Gatland’s fourth tour with the Lions after he worked as an assistant to Ian McGeechan during the last tour to South Africa in 2009. Gatland will join McGeechan as the only other coach to have taken charge of three Lions’ tours.
‘I’m hugely honoured and delighted to lead the Lions again,’ Gatland said. ‘It is exciting and a great challenge to coach the best players from the four Home Nations. The Lions rightly have a truly special place in the game and I jumped at the chance to be involved again when I was approached about the role.
‘South Africa is a special place to play rugby. They have some of the most iconic stadiums in the world which will be packed full of passionate fans, and the Springboks have shown in recent times that they are back to being one of the dominant forces in the game.
‘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.
‘History tells you it’s a tough place to tour, but I am 100 per cent confident that we can go there and win – I would not be here if I thought differently.’
Gatland will be stepping down from his post as Wales head coach after the World Cup in Japan later this year. His unveiling as Lions coach was anticipated but he had been linked with a return to New Zealand as well as succeeding Eddie Jones as England head coach.
The Lions lost the 2009 series to the Springboks 2-1. Should Gatland avoid defeat, he would create Lions history by becoming the first person to lead tours to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and remain unbeaten.
Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz
You may also like