Why Did Warren Get the Job?
The British and Irish Lions Coach for the 2017 tour of New Zealand has been chosen. Wales Coach, Warren Gatland, will lead the Lions once again, this time with a far more daunting task: beating the best rugby team in the world on their own soil.
It would be a big challenge for any coach. Schmidt, Cotter’s and later Eddie Jones’ names were being bandied about before it became clear it would be Gatland leading the team again; three other Southern Hemisphere expert coaches who could have brought a lot to the Lions. However, Gatland was been selected as the 2017 Coach. Here we’ve highlighted three reasons why Gatland was the only choice for the 2017 New Zealand Tour.
Warren Gatland is one of the most experienced coaches in World Rugby and when it comes to Lions tours, experience is vital. He’s been Head Coach of Wales for nearly 10 years, taking over after their disappointing 2007 Rugby World Cup campaign. In that time, Wales have won two Grand Slams, reached the Rugby World Cup Semi Finals in 2011 and the Quarter Finals last year. Before coaching Wales, he had unparalleled success in the English Premiership with Wasps, leading them to 3 league victories in a row and a European Cup.
While experience isn’t the only thing you need to coach the Lions, the length and successes Gatland has had on the International and Club levels of rugby will give him an advantage over other coaches who could have led the Lions. He also has great experience coaching against the players he will now be picking, a difficult job that no one will envy.
2. The Rugby World Cup 2015
Gatland has very recently led a team out of one the most difficult groups in Rugby World Cup history. The Group of Death, as it quickly became known, looked as though it might have been the end of the Wales Rugby World Cup campaign before the tournament even kicked off.
It was a testament to the mentality and belief Gatland instilled in his team that they scraped through. While England didn’t capitalise on all of their opportunities, Wales did. The Lions will need to make sure they take everything that is offered during their games against the All Blacks. Gatland will choose and coach a team that will take any advantage on the pitch in New Zealand.
3. The 2013 Tour of Australia
One of the clearest reasons that Gatland is the man for the job is that he’s done it before…and won. The 2013 Tour to Australia was won convincingly 2-1 by the Lions, the first time the historic team had won a tour in over 15 years. It was an exceptional tour, the Lions were only beaten twice out of ten matches and were able to nil a couple of teams they played.
While the task this time around is even greater, the fact that Gatland has proven that he can lead a Lions tour to victory before makes him the clear choice. It’s not likely to be easier a second time round especially given the opposition and the tight scheduling with the domestic season but Gatland will look to the successes of 2013 for inspiration when the Lions touch down in New Zealand next Summer.