December 06, 2022

Warren Gatland takes up opportunity with Wales

Chiefs Rugby Club Director of Rugby Warren Gatland has been granted an early release from his contract with New Zealand Rugby (NZR) to accept an opportunity as the Head Coach of Wales.

The four-year-deal with NZR was set to conclude at the end of 2023 however Gatland said the opportunity to coach Wales leading into the 2023 Rugby World Cup was hard too for him to turn down. Gatland will take over the Head Coach role from Wayne Pivac in January.

Gatland spent 12 years with the Welsh Rugby Union, coaching the team to four Six Nations titles, three Grand Slams, and reaching the Rugby World Cup semi-finals in 2011 and 2019. He returned to New Zealand after the World Cup to take on the role as Head Coach of the Gallagher Chiefs before making the shift to become Director of Rugby , following his stint as Head Coach of the 2021 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa.

Chiefs Rugby Club CEO Simon Graafhuis said: "Warren has been an instrumental part of the Chiefs Rugby Club for the past few years, and although we are disappointed to lose him he goes with our blessing and full support.

"Warren is such a great coach who has made a huge contribution to rugby in New Zealand and the Northern Hemisphere. You don’t coach Ireland, Wales, and the Lions as a foreigner without great coaching pedigree. Warren's significant time in the Welsh environment makes him ideally placed to get the squad to achieve their potential, and we will all watch with interest and pride as one of our own helps Wales on their journey."

During this time in the Northern Hemisphere, Gatland coached the British and Irish Lions to a 2-1 tour victory over Australia in 2013. Four years later he also coached the side to a remarkable tied series with the All Blacks in New Zealand. Gatland also coached Ireland in the late 90’s before taking on a role with the London Wasps in 2002. During his time with the Wasps he led them successfully to three Premiership titles and a Heineken Cup.

Chris Lendrum, NZR General Manager Professional Rugby & Performance said: “It’s been great to see the whole Chiefs organisation benefit from the coaching experience and knowledge Gats brought back to New Zealand in 2020. We wish Gats all the best as he moves from his Director of Rugby role with the Gallagher Chiefs and transitions back into the top job with Wales to continue his international coaching career.”

Gatland said: "I want to thank the Chiefs Rugby Club for their support. This was a big decision and leaving a team like this was always going to be hard. However, I am looking forward to re-connecting with our friends in Wales and taking on this new challenge."

Gatland's children, Gabby and Bryn, will remain in New Zealand with Bryn playing at first-five eight for the Gallagher Chiefs in 2023.

Graafhuis continued: "I want to acknowledge both Warren and his wife Trudi for their significant contributions to the Chiefs Rugby Club in their time here. We have a saying at the Chiefs, 'Once a Chief, Always a Chief' – we know even while in the Welsh environment, Warren and his family are still part of the Chief’s whānau."

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Warren Gatland takes up opportunity with Wales