Warren Gatland EXCLUSIVE: Wales and Lions head coach ‘categorically’ rules out coaching England in the future

12 Jun

Warren Gatland has ‘categorically’ ruled out coaching England in an exclusive interview with talkSPORT.

The New Zealander will leave his post as head coach of Wales after 12 years following this year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.

He will then take charge of the Barbarians against the Welsh at the Principality Stadium on November 30, which he says will be his chance to say goodbye to the Wales team and their fans.

Warren Gatland will take charge of his third British and Irish Lions tour in South Africa in 2021

On Wednesday, Gatland was confirmed as British and Irish Lions head coach for the third time for the 2021 tour of South Africa, but there has been plenty of speculation over his long-term plans.

The 55-year-old has been linked as a possible replacement for England head coach Eddie Jones, who has just two years remaining on his contract with the RFU.

But Gatland was keen to point out to any worried Welsh supporters that he has no plans to take over at Twickenham.

Speaking to talkSPORT’s Andrew McKenna, he said: “I can categorically tell the Welsh fans I will not be coaching England, there’s been lots of speculation about that.”

There are nine months between the end of the World Cup in Japan and when he officially begins his preparations for the Lions tour – so what will he do in the meantime, and then beyond?

Gatland is hoping to continue Wales’ brilliant 2019 at the upcoming World Cup in Japan

Asked about his future plans, Gatland revealed: “I finish with Wales after the World Cup and wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do, so the Lions approached me and said,  ‘we want to make this appointment early to have you involved but also to make sure we’ve got you secured before you think about going to another position’.

“I’m talking to a couple of people about prospects after the Lions tour and perhaps doing something between the World Cup and August next year when I officially take over the role [as Lions head coach]. Those conversations are going on at the moment but there’s nothing confirmed.

“It’s a big few months building towards Japan and my whole focus after today is going back and solely thinking about that with Wales and doing as well as we possibly can. We’ve had a great year so far and we’re looking forward to having a great World Cup.

“I’ll be coaching the Barbarians against Wales on November 30, and the Welsh Rugby Union have targeted that, having been in Wales for 12 years, as kind of a farewell match.

“So I’m really looking forward to that, it’ll be a great send off and it’s a chance for me to thank the fans for the great support that I’ve had in my time with Wales.

“And I can categorically tell the Welsh fans I will not be coaching England.

Gatland was strongly linked with succeeding Eddie Jones as England head coach

“It’s a really exciting year, and then I can have a bit of a break to thinking about South Africa and the Lions and what a privilege and an honour it is to be involved with that iconic side, and about the possibility of trying to go three tours undefeated as a head coach in the Test series.

“That would be pretty special and something I would treasure for the rest of my life.”

Listen back to talkSPORT’s EXCLUSIVE interview with Warren Gatland IN FULL above

Warren Gatland named British and Irish Lions coach for 2021 South Africa tour

12 Jun

Warren Gatland has been named head coach of the British and Irish Lions for the tour to South Africa in 2021.

Gatland is just the second person after Sir Ian McGeechan to take charge of the Lions for three consecutive tours.

Warren Gatland was confirmed as Lions head coach on Wednesday

It means the former Ireland and London Wasps boss will complete the set of Lions tour destinations following a series win against Australia in 2013 and a draw with New Zealand four years later.

The 55-year-old will step down as Wales boss after this year’s World Cup in Japan, having established himself as one of the game’s finest coaches.

He is expected to assume responsibilities at least 10 months to a year before the tour begins.

Since taking charge of Wales in 2007, he has masterminded four Six Nations titles including three Grand Slams, the most recent coming this year, as well as and leading them into the semi-finals of the 2011 World Cup.

Gatland will coach against Wales in the country’s first match under Wayne Pivac, after agreeing to lead the Barbarians on November 30.

“I’m hugely honoured and delighted to lead the Lions again,” said Gatland. “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.

Wales secured a third Grand Slam success under Gatland earlier this year

“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.

“I’m delighted to now have everything in place to begin full-time in August 2020 as that gives me the best possible chance to plan for South Africa, but for the time being my focus is entirely on the Rugby World Cup and delivering a successful campaign for Wales.”

Warren Gatland agrees to become British and Irish Lions coach for 2021 South Africa tour

10 May

Warren Gatland is understood to have agreed to become head coach of the British and Irish Lions for the tour to South Africa in 2021.

The Lions have moved swiftly to secure Gatland for a record third successive term, in the process ending the prospect of the Kiwi replacing Eddie Jones as England boss after the World Cup.

Warren Gatland will allegedly take charge of the Lions for a third tour

Although the contract has yet to be signed, as Gatland is currently in New Zealand, a verbal agreement has been reached.

A start date has yet to be finalised, but it is likely that the most successful coach in Six Nations history will take up the role a year out from the tour.

It means Gatland will complete the set of Lions tour destinations following a series win against Australia in 2013 and a draw with New Zealand four years later.

A spokesman for the Lions declined to comment on Gatland’s potential appointment.

Recruiting Gatland is a coup for Lions managing director Ben Calveley, who viewed the 55-year-old as the outstanding candidate for the role.

The Lions won the 2013 tour to Australia

Gatland steps down as Wales boss after the World Cup and as one of the game’s finest coaches, he was linked with a number of positions including England.

Since taking charge of Wales in 2007, he has masterminded four Six Nations titles including three Grand Slams and passage into the semi-finals of the 2011 World Cup.

Warren Gatland as England head coach? Lawrence Dallaglio says Wales boss will be on shortlist to replace Eddie Jones after 2019 World Cup

19 Mar

Lawrence Dallaglio expects Warren Gatland to be firmly in the frame to take charge of England after the 2019 World Cup.

Eddie Jones, the current England head coach, has a contract until 2021 but Dallaglio does not believe he will stay in the job that long.

And the former captain and World Cup winner believes the RFU will have Gatland in their sights, after the New Zealander won his third Grand Slam with Wales on Saturday.

Gatland, 55, has confirmed he will end his 12-year stint as Wales boss after the World Cup in Japan later this year and is sure to be a man in demand, given his success with the home nation and in two spells as Lions coach.

Eddie Jones out, Warren Gatland in as England boss?

Speaking on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast, Dallaglio said: “After a World Cup you see a changing of the guard in all countries.

“Eddie Jones has signed a contract for two years after the World Cup but many people are already saying this will probably be his last big tournament.

“Wales have known for quite some time this will be Warren Gatland’s last major tournament and if you are Warren Gatland you can pretty much decide what you want to do.

“At the moment they [Wales] are going to go well at the tournament. They have got a very good chance of challenging New Zealand and the very best.

Wales celebrate their third Grand Slam success under Warren Gatland after victory over Ireland

“Gatland has got that choice – does he want to go back to New Zealand? Ultimately, yes. But will he get the All Blacks job? Probably not.

“It is a choice for him between maybe taking a job in club rugby in France and he is certainly going to be the number one target for the British and Irish Lions. Given what he did in New Zealand against the All Blacks, I’m pretty certain he will be their target.

“It is up to England now. They don’t have a CEO in charge. Will Warren Gatland be on the shortlist? I’m sure he will be – it is a question of whether he wants to take the job.”

Warren Gatland compared to Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger by Wales fly-half Dan Biggar after Grand Slam success

18 Mar

Dan Biggar has compared Warren Gatland to Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger after masterminding a Grand Slam triumph for Wales.

The New Zealand native took charge of the Dragons in 2007 and has won four Six Nations titles since.

Gatland’s side may not have been the most flamboyant or entertaining side in the tournament, but their resilience and steely determination proved decisive.

Ferguson and Wenger are two of the greatest managers in Premier League history

Despite trailing France and England in the group games, the Welsh rallied to come back and claim vital victories en route to the title.

Although he was often benched in preference of Gareth Anscombe, Biggar outlined his credentials as a playmaker with composed performances with the boot in Cardiff and in Paris for his side.

And the Northampton fly-half compared Warren Gatland to influential managers Ferguson and Wenger for his elite mentality – which quickly emanates through the squad.

“What Warren does particularly well is his confidence,” Biggar told the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast.

Biggar was at his brilliant best against Ireland, exploiting space in behind full-back Rob Kearney

“He’s almost a little bit like Sir Alex or even an Arsene Wenger. He sort of gives you a real confidence when you go onto the pitch and he’s kind of changed the mentality of Welsh rugby in terms of that.

“I saw something that Sam Warburton said on TV after the game that he changed Wales from hoping for an upset in the Six Nations to going into every Six Nations expecting to win.

“So I think he deserves huge credit for that.”

Warren Gatland the ‘leading candidate’ to replace Eddie Jones as England head coach

19 Feb

Warren Gatland is the favourite to replace Eddie Jones as England head coach, according to reports.

Jones only signed a contract extension with the RFU last year, to take him up to 2021, but it is understood to have a break clause that is dependent on how England get on at this year’s World Cup.

Current Wales head coach Warren Gatland

Gatland, who is currently in charge of Wales, will step down following the tournament in Japan.

The Daily Telegraph report that the New Zealander is favourite to replace Jones because of his record on the international stage and knowledge of English rugby.

The report comes ahead of the important Six Nations clash between the two nations at the Millennium Stadium, with both sides having won their first two games heading into Saturday’s clash.

Eddie Jones is England’s head coach

Gatland, 55, has won two Grand Slams with Wales since becoming their head coach in 2007.

Prior to that he was head coach of Wasps with whom he won three consecutive Premiership titles from 2002 to 2005, while he also guided them to success in the 2004 Heineken Cup.

Gatland has also been in charge of the British and Irish Lions for the 2013 and 2017 tours.

The RFU insists no approach has been made to the current Wales head coach.

A spokeswoman told the Telegraph: “No conversations have been had with any possible succession candidates.”

Six Nations: Warren Gatland makes TEN changes for Italy clash as Wales bid for 11th successive win to equal unbeaten record

7 Feb

Wasps forward Thomas Young will make his Six Nations debut for Wales against Italy on Saturday.

The flanker, who is the son of Wasps rugby director and former Wales prop Dai Young, lines up alongside back-row colleagues Aaron Wainwright and Josh Navidi in Rome.

Thomas Young is all set for his Wales bow

Centre Jonathan Davies captains his country for the first time with regular skipper Alun Wyn Jones on the replacements’ bench as Warren Gatland makes ten changes and one positional switch from the side that beat France last week.

There is also a Six Nations bow for Leicester back Jonah Holmes, who made his Test debut during this season’s autumn series, with scrum-half Aled Davies and flanker Wainwright handed first starts in the tournament.

Centre Owen Watkin, fly-half Dan Biggar, hooker Elliot Dee and lock Jake Ball also feature, with Navidi moving from blindside flanker to number eight.

North, who scored two against France, has not made the matchday squad

Players that started the 24-19 victory over France not involved in Wales’ match-day 23 this weekend include wing George North, centre Hadleigh Parkes and hooker Ken Owens as Gatland maximises a 31-man squad that has trained in Nice this week.

Young, who won two caps on Wales’ 2017 summer tour against Tonga and Samoa, has been among the Gallagher Premiership’s most consistent performers this season.

He now has a glorious chance to show his Test credentials at the start of a World Cup year.

Victory for Wales at the Stadio Olimpico would make it 11 successive wins and equal their all-time unbeaten record set between 1907 and 1910.

Gatland said: “We have made a number of changes this weekend, but have picked what we think is a very exciting team that still has huge experience throughout it.

“We have made a similar number of changes to what we did last year, but it is all about opportunity for these players.

“We have had a squad of 31 training together, replicating the Rugby World Cup, and it is important they get game-time.

Davies will captain Wales for the Italy match

“It is a great opportunity for Jon (Davies) as captain. He has a huge amount of experience, is a great leader and it is a great honour for him to lead his country.

“Italy will be hurting after last weekend (they lost to Scotland), but they are a different proposition in Rome.

“They are an experienced team themselves and they will be looking to put things right on the pitch after their opening defeat.”

Gatland has rung the changes against Italy

Wales squad to face Italy:

 L Williams; Holmes, J Davies (capt), Watkin, Adams; Biggar, A Davies; N Smith, Dee, Lee, Ball, Beard Wainwright, Young, Navidi.

Replacements: Elias, W Jones, D Lewis, Alun Wyn Jones, Moriarty, G Davies, Anscombe, Amos.

Wales squad latest: Taulupe Faletau OUT, but Leigh Halfpenny returns for Warren Gatland’s final Six Nations squad

15 Jan

Wales have suffered a huge Six Nations blow after Bath number eight Taulupe Faletau broke his arm for the second time this season.

Faletau is not among Wales head coach Warren Gatland’s 39-man squad, but full-back Leigh Halfpenny does return.

Halfpenny has not played at all since November 10 because of an injury

Gatland confirmed that he had originally selected a 40-player group, which included Faletau, before injury ruled him out.

The British and Irish Lion returned to action for his club Bath against Heineken Champions Cup opponents Wasps on Saturday.

That was the 28-year-old’s first appearance following a 13-week absence after he broke his arm earlier this term, missing Wales’ four autumn Tests as a result.

And Bath have now confirmed another fracture to the same arm, although no timescale has been given for how long he will be sidelined.

Faletau missed all of the Autumn Internationals as well through injury

Scarlets star Halfpenny, meanwhile, has not played since suffering concussion during Wales’ victory over Australia on November 10.

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac stated last Tuesday that the 30-year-old would not feature for “three to five weeks” after seeing a specialist.

That would suggest he will be unavailable for Wales’ Six Nations opener against France on February 1, which is followed by an appointment with Italy in Rome eight days later.

Halfpenny went off in the closing stages of the Australia match after being on the receiving end of a late challenge from Wallabies centre Samu Kerevi, who avoided any punishment.

Alun Wyn Jones returns as Wales captain

Gatland’s Six Nations group includes Wasps flanker Thomas Young and Leicester back Jonah Holmes.

Young, who won caps against Tonga and Samoa in 2017, has been among the Gallagher Premiership’s form players this term.

Holmes made his Test debut earlier this season, and he has continued to shine for his club Leicester, despite the Tigers’ inconsistent form.

Lock Alun Wyn Jones captains a squad that features many of Gatland’s tried-and-tested players, including fit-again Cardiff Blues back-row forward Josh Navidi, who mussed the autumn games through injury.

This season’s tournament is Gatland’s final Six Nations as Wales boss. He steps down after the World Cup in Japan later this year.

Gatland said: “We have a really experienced squad of players who have been around a number of campaigns together, and we feel we are in a pretty good place going into this huge year.

“We have got a few injuries and have selected a larger squad because of that.”

Rugby union news: Wales call up uncapped Cardiff Blues fly-half Jarrod Evans

23 Oct

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has called up uncapped Cardiff Blues fly-half Jarrod Evans into his squad for the upcoming autumn Tests.

The 22-year-old becomes the third international rookie in Gatland’s group, joining Leicester back Jonah Holmes and Ospreys wing Luke Morgan.

Jarrod Evans could be in line to make his senior Wales debut next month

Evans, a former Wales Under-20 international, was already training with the squad.

But he now gains an official call-up ahead of games against Scotland, Australia, Tonga and South Africa next month, the Welsh Rugby Union have announced.

The WRU added that Scarlets fly-half Rhys Patchell continues to make progress with his rehabilitation following concussion.

It appears likely that Evans will be involved in Wales’ match-day 23 for the Scotland fixture on November 3.

His Blues colleague Gareth Anscombe is a clear favourite to wear the number 10 shirt, but Evans would be a strong candidate for the replacements’ bench, particularly as Northampton fly-half Dan Biggar is unavailable.

Wales will play Scotland, Australia, Tonga and South Africa at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff next month

As the Scotland clash falls outside World Rugby’s autumn Test window, England-based players like Biggar, Saracens back Liam Williams and Worcester wing Josh Adams are ruled out.

After Scotland, Wales face the Wallabies on November 10, followed by Tonga seven days later and then South Africa on November 24.

Ospreys lock Bradley Davies, meanwhile, has been released from the Wales squad because of a knee problem.

Davies, who has won 64 caps, will undergo further investigation and assessments, the WRU said.

Wales rugby tour 2018: Cory Hill and Ellis Jenkins named co-captains as top stars are rested

8 May
Wales rugby tour 2018: Cory Hill and Ellis Jenkins named co-captains as top stars are rested
Cory Hill and Ellis Jenkins will captain Wales' summer tour of the USA and South America

Cory Hill and Ellis Jenkins will captain Wales for their upcoming summer tour of the USA and South America, with the nation’s top stars to be rested.

Dragons lock Hill and Cardiff Blues flanker Jenkins have been named as co-captains for Test matches against South Africa and Argentina in June.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has rested all but two players – wing George North and back-row forward Ross Moriarty – who were original British and Irish Lions selections in New Zealand last summer.

It means that the likes of regular Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones, number eight Taulupe Faletau, flanker Justin Tipuric, fly-half Dan Biggar, wing Liam Williams and full-back Leigh Halfpenny are among those who take a breather.

Gatland has named one uncapped player – Cardiff Blues scrum-half Tomos Williams – in a 31-man squad.

Wales face the Springboks in Washington DC on June 2, then travel to South America for appointments with the Pumas on June 9 and 16.

It is an important staging post on the way to Wales’ 2019 World Cup campaign in Japan as Gatland looks to further develop his squad depth.

Experienced Bath lock Luke Charteris has gained a recall, while it is a major opportunity for Jenkins, who is considered by many as a future Wales skipper, to make his mark.

Gatland said: “We have picked Cory and Ellis as co-captains.

“They are both leaders and have experience captaining at regional level, so this is an opportunity for them to build on that.

“This summer is another step on our 2019 World Cup path and a great opportunity to build on recent campaigns.

“It is a great opportunity for this squad to build on their experience, get Test match game time under their belt and face Rugby Championship opposition.

“We have picked a squad of 31 to try and give players as much game time as possible.

“It shows the depth we have built in recent years that we have just one uncapped player in the squad in Tomos, but he has been in a number of squads so knows the environment well.”

Wales squad for Argentina tour and Test match against South Africa in Washington DC:

Backs: A Davies (Scarlets), G Davies (Scarlets), T Williams (Cardiff Blues), G Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), R Patchell (Scarlets), H Parkes (Scarlets), O Watkin (Ospreys), S Williams (Scarlets), J Adams (Worcester), H Amos (Dragons), S Evans (Scarlets), G North (Northampton), T Prydie (Scarlets).

Forwards: R Evans (Scarlets), W Jones (Scarlets), N Smith (Ospreys), T Francis (Exeter), S Lee (Scarlets), D Lewis (Cardiff Blues), E Dee (Dragons), R Elias (Scarlets), A Beard (Ospreys), B Davies (Ospreys), S Davies (Cardiff Blues), L Charteris (Bath), C Hill (Dragons, co-captain), J Davies (Scarlets), E Jenkins (Cardiff Blues, co-captain), R Moriarty (Gloucester), J Navidi (Cardiff Blues), A Shingler (Scarlets).