The hierarchy of the British and Irish Lions has told Warren Gatland that the job of head coach for the 2025 tour of Australia is his if he wishes, despite the series loss to South Africa. Gatland refused to rule out a fourth head coach tour following the Springboks loss and subsequently received strong backing from Lions president Jason Leonard and managing director Ben Calveley.
Gatland has been a part of all four previous tours, in South Africa 12 years ago he was a forward coach, and while only one of them has resulted in a series win, he remains a firm favorite at the boardroom level. On Sunday morning he flew back to New Zealand, where he intends to spend 14 days in quarantine reflecting on his future and, while the appointment of the next head coach is unlikely to take place until 2023, the work appears to be to Gatland.
“I don’t think he has a problem with us,” Leonard said. “The biggest credit I can give to someone like Gats is that he stands alongside Sir Ian McGeechan. If you cut it in half, it bleeds lions. Just understand what Lions are. Warren Gatland must be considered. It’s great to know that he’s willing to do it. “
Calveley added: “Having worked with him over this two-year period and incredibly closely over the past seven or eight months, he just proved once again what an excellent coach he is, but also how outstanding a person he is. He has assembled this team of rivals, brought them together in the most challenging situation we have faced on any Lions tour and he deserves great recognition because, in our opinion, he is one of the best in the world. “
Although the Lions have won just one of their last six series, Leonard said the concept is “alive and well,” and Calveley said the organizations’ finances are in “good shape” despite a tour that took place on the doorstep. closed with a high demand for tickets. Australia was expected from supporters who were unable to travel to South Africa.
Gatland and his assistants have repeatedly lamented how weak the opposition was in prep games, with no Springboks in action for their franchises, hampering their chances of success. The provincial parts of Australia would be equally underpowered without any Wallabies in their ranks, but matches could be organized against Fiji and other Pacific Island nations.
“The only thing I would say is that you would be surprised how healthy the Lions are, alive and well,” said Leonard. “People have not been able to come to this tour and interest in 2025 is through the roof. Everyone is already talking about it, so the Lions will be around for a while and it’s great to be a part of that. We are eager for that to happen and [up to] There will also be 50,000 fans. “
It’s not the first time Gatland has also urged player clubs to take a more cooperative approach to give Lions more time to prepare for future tours. Premiership clubs have traditionally been troublesome and, after finally releasing their players for preparation camp in Jersey, they insisted they would not do so again before the national final was played.
“As soon as we get back, we have a little bit of work to do regarding this tour, but it will be sooner rather than later to sit down with everyone involved and understand their distress in that regard and get ours over to us as well,” Leonard said. “We left it a little late [for this tour]. It’s about making sure we’re fair to everyone when we have that conversation. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism