by Kristian Ross
It’s official. Although to be fair, even when it wasn’t official, we all knew Warren Gatland was to be named the British and Irish Lions head coach for the second consecutive time. The worst kept secret in rugby finally hit the heights when a tweet from a photoshoot saw Gatland sporting a B&I Lions polo the day before the big announcement. And so the memes began, the mock line ups filled with Welsh celebrities and did somebody mention BOD? Careful now.
In seriousness, it’s not an appointment that many are chomping at the bit about and personally I can see why. First of all, yes, Warren Gatland led the Lions to success in 2013 with a series win over Australia. A magnificent achievement and one that rightly deserve the plaudits. I for one do not think that Gatland is a bad coach. Far from it in fact, his Six Nations success with Wales has been unparalleled. But what must be brought into question is his record against southern hemisphere teams, which does not make for good reading. Against the “big three”, Wales have only beaten South Africa since 2012 with Gatland’s other wins against southern hemisphere opposition coming against Uruguay, Fiji, Argentina and Tonga. Out of seventeen matches, he has won five and lost twelve. You can’t sugar-coat that and now he faces what is arguably the greatest ever All Blacks. A side that doesn’t lose.
I’ve already received numerous tweets, Facebook comments and even a carrier pigeon saying that Eddie Jones and Joe Schmidt weren’t interested in the job. Be that as it may, both would have been better options. Strange enough that Gatland was born in Hamilton, New Zealand, yet somehow he hasn’t been able to mastermind wins against sides that surely he spent the start of his entire coaching career watching. If I’m honest, I couldn’t care who Gatland picks next summer. If he picks a full Welsh team and they win, then who really are we to judge. But yet somehow I can’t help but hear the word “whitewash” lingering at the back of my mind…
@Kristian7Ross - 22, Geordie, part time journalist and Irish Rugby fan.
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