Warren Gatland gets British & Irish Lions head coach job for third tour

Warren Gatland

Gatland led Wales to the Grand Slam in this year's Six Nations

Warren Gatland was officially unveiled as the British and Irish Lions head coach for the 2021 tour to South Africa on Wednesday. Even though he is now signing a Lions contract for the 2021 tour, The Times understands the deal does not become full-time until the summer of 2020.

The 55-year-old led the Lions to victory on their 2013 tour of Australia, with the 2017 tour of his native New Zealand finishing all-square after the decisive third Test ended in a thrilling 15-15 draw at Eden Park in Auckland.

Gatland knows first-hand the challenge posed by the Springboks, having already been part of a touring party to South Africa in 2009 as McGeechan's.

"I love the Lions as a concept", he said. "It is exciting and a great challenge to coach the best players from the four Home Nations".

Previously he has taken a sabbatical from his Wales duties to dedicate himself to the Lions but now he would be free from any distractions from when the World Cup ends on 2 November.

Gatland said after the last Lions tour that he was frustrated by limited time given to prepare the team and by the shortened nature of the tour.

The British & Irish Lions managing director, Ben Calveley, said: "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".

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