Gatland named Lions coach for third time

Gatland named Lions coach for third time

Warren Gatland was today officially named as head coach of the British and Irish Lions for their upcoming tour of South Africa in 2021.

"We spoke about the potential and I couldn't turn my back on the challenge", he said.

The 55-year-old Kiwi was also in charge for the previous two Lions trips. "I have been head coach with Waikato and won a championship there, and I want to challenge myself with Super Rugby".

Warren Gatland has "categorically" ruled out coaching England.

"I jumped at the chance to be involved again", Gatland said at his presentation in central London on Wednesday.

"And to think about the possibility of leading the Lions in South Africa, I know it's going to be tough, a real rugby hotbed in terms of going over there, and the Lions in the past have always found it quite hard, how physical and passionate they are".

Ben Calveley, managing director of the British & Irish Lions, added: "We're delighted to have got our man; Warren is a world-class coach, boasts a proven track record, and knows the Lions better than anyone else now coaching in world rugby - so naturally he was our first-choice candidate from the start of the process".

"I can categorically tell you now I will definitely not be coaching England", Gatland told TalkSport.

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"Scrutiny of the press was at the forefront at the time, but the hospitality in New Zealand, the atmosphere in the games, it was incredible".

"If I was looking at players today, (Wales lock) Alun Wyn Jones comes to mind, (England flyhalf) Owen Farrell has been incredibly successful", he said.

"Then potentially you could go into extra time".

Lions chairman Jason Leonard, who played on the victorious 1997 tour, said: "One of Warren's greatest strengths is the ability to galvanise a group quickly and the last two Lions tours have shown that Warren understands and truly loves the Lions".

Gatland has committed himself fully to the Lions until after the 2021 tour.

"I know it'll be tough, it will be a real rugby hotbed".

Under his watch, the Lions are still unbeaten in Tests after the drawn series against the All Blacks and, more recently, a 2-1 victory over the Wallabies. "2009 was some of the most physical rugby I've ever seen and the challenge for me as the head coach is to go undefeated in a test series". If I was able to achieve that, and the squad were able to achieve that, it would be something pretty special.