On the back of successful tours to both Australia and New Zealand, current Wales coach Warren Gatland is set to lead a third British and Irish Lions campaign in 2021.
England’s Sunday Telegraph is reporting that contracting the 55-year old New Zealander will be a mere formality, with both Gatland and the Lions board agreeing in principle to the arrangement.
Gatland guided the Lions to a 2-1 series victory over Australia in 2013 and a draw with New Zealand in 2017 and is scheduled to take the side to South Africa in 2021.
In 2009, Gatland was forwards coach when the Lions travelled to South Africa. That tour wasn’t quite as successful, with the Lions losing the first two test matches of the series – although they bounced back for a comprehensive 28-9 victory in the final game. Naturally, Gatland would be keen to right the wrongs of the failed tour.
Gatland will finish up with Wales at the end of this season. After guiding the team to a third Six Nations Grand Slam since he first took over as coach in 2008, Gatland will be looking to go out with a bang at the upcoming World Cup.
The Walsh squad will assemble at the end of May to begin their World Cup preparations – including a rigorous four-match warm-up schedule against Ireland and England. The Welsh Rugby Union will naturally want Gatland’s attention firmly focused on the national squad when the camp begins so will be pushing for all Lions negotiations to be done and dusted as soon as possible.
It is expected that Gatland will take half a year off after the World Cup before beginning to plan for he 2021 Lions tour.
Gatland’s third appointment as Lions coach shouldn’t jeopardise his chances of taking over as head of the English set-up, with Eddie Jones contracted in that role through to 2021.