New Wales head coach Warren Gatland. PA
Second Coming

Wales confirm Warren Gatland as new head coach

Wayne Pivac departs the role following a dismal Autumn Nations series.

LAST UPDATE | 5 Dec 2022

WARREN GATLAND HAS been confirmed as the new head coach of Wales following reports of his return to the position today.

Wayne Pivac’s future as Wales’ boss looked set to be decided after a report in The Daily Telegraph this morning indicated that the Welsh Rugby Union had selected Gatland as his replacement. 

A statement from Wales today reveals that Gatland will take charge of the national side for the 2023 Six Nations and the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, “with the ability to go through the next World Cup cycle up to and including Australia 2027.”

Gatland returns to the job from Super Rugby side the Chiefs, after formerly serving Wales over a 12-year period. He completed his first Six Nations clean sweep in his debut season with Cymru in 2008, before repeating the feat in 2012 and finishing on the same high to win the 2019 tournament.

Pivac has agreed to part company with the WRU after the official 2022 Autumn Nations series review was completed and approved by the WRU Board. He departs the role following a dismal campaign where Wales lost to Georgia and Australia, blowing a 34-13 lead against the Wallabies.

The Georgia defeat followed a home loss to annual Six Nations strugglers Italy eight months earlier.

Wales have lost 20 of their 34 Tests under Pivac – including eight defeats this year – won 13 and drawn one.

“This is one of the toughest calls to make in sport, but the review process has reached its conclusion and we have acted quickly and efficiently in the very best interests of our national team,” said Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) CEO Steve Phillips.

“Ultimately we are in the results business and we have agreed with Wayne that the current trajectory for Wales is not where we want it to be and we thank him sincerely for his time, enthusiasm, diligence and effort, which is unquestioned, as head coach over the last three years.

“In Warren we are bringing in one of the very best coaches in the international game,” continued Phillips.

“We were sorry to see him go when he left and we are delighted that he has agreed to return.

“We know him well and, most importantly, he knows us well too. We are extremely excited about this latest chapter for Wales-and-Warren-Gatland and I know the feeling is mutual.

“He will undoubtedly be able to make an immediate impact, just as he did when he joined us for the first time in 2008. But it has also been important to both parties to ensure we get absolute maximum gain out of the return of such an experienced and highly regarded individual.

“It is for this reason that we are particularly pleased to have been able to secure Warren’s services for the next few years with the ability to go to the 2027 Rugby World Cup.

“This appointment is no quick fix, nor sticking plaster, it is part of our long term planning for the game in Wales.

“We have been able to take swift action in difficult circumstances and that is testament to the good grace and professionalism of Wayne and the efficiency of our review process.” 

rhys-priestland-dejected Wales dejected after defeat to Australia. Robbie Stephenson / INPHO Robbie Stephenson / INPHO / INPHO

Issues regarding the head coach position continue against a backdrop of considerable financial uncertainty in Welsh professional rugby.

No future funding agreement between the WRU and Wales’ four regional teams – Cardiff, Dragons, Scarlets and Ospreys – has yet been thrashed out.

There is currently a freeze on contract negotiations, leading to considerable uncertainty, with Dragons lock Will Rowlands – a key Wales performer during Pivac’s time in charge – reportedly agreeing a deal that would see him join French heavyweights Racing 92.

The situation has prompted a strong reaction from the Welsh Rugby Players’ Association, with increasing anxiety surrounding the lack of a long-term finance model for Wales’ professional regions.

“The ongoing delay is having a detrimental effect on the well-being of players, and potentially the performances, across the regions,” the WRPA said, in a statement.

“The players from all four regions are united in one voice to call for the immediate resolution to the impasse. Our members can’t continue to play with the fear of the unknown hanging over them.

“Several players are out of contract at the end of June 2023, and with an embargo on contract negotiations these members are unable to discuss, let alone secure future employment beyond the next six months.

“Not knowing if they have a job – and thus an income to pay mortgages and bills – is a weighty situation to be carrying on a day-to-day basis, and onto the field.

“As an Association, our role is to represent and support our members, with player welfare of utmost priority.

“Daily discussions on this matter are taking place in all four regions, and as time goes on we are becoming increasingly concerned for the welfare and mental well-being of our members.

“For the sanity and health of our members, the delay cannot go on any longer. An agreement needs to be concluded by the Union (WRU) and four regions imminently.”

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