- Gatland unbeaten as head coach
- Lions next tour South Africa
The British & Irish Lions have confirmed Warren Gatland has been appointed head coach for the tour of South Africa in 2021.
Gatland is unbeaten in two consecutive tours to Australia and New Zealand as head coach of the Lions, and following the appointment becomes only the second person to lead a third tour after Sir Ian McGeechan.
The 55-year-old will start as head coach on 1 August 2020, and will work exclusively with the Lions until the conclusion of the 2021 tour to South Africa 12 months later.
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 forwards coach, but is confident of delivering success for the Lions in 2021.
Should Gatland avoid defeat, he would create Lions history by becoming the first person to lead tours to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and remain unbeaten.
'Honoured and delighted'
“I’m hugely honoured and delighted to lead the Lions again,” said Gatland.
“It is exciting and a great challenge to coach the best players from the four Home Nations. The Lions rightly have a truly special place in the game and I jumped at the chance to be involved again when I was approached about the role.
“South Africa is a special place to play rugby. They have some of the most iconic stadiums in the world which will be packed full of passionate fans, and the Springboks have shown in recent times that they are back to being one of the dominant forces in the game.
“Having toured there in 2009 I know the scale of the task ahead of us – playing in South Africa presents a number of unique challenges such as playing at altitude, while the Boks will always be physical, aggressive and highly motivated.
“History tells you it’s a tough place to tour, but I am 100 per cent confident that we can go there and win – I would not be here if I thought differently.
“I’m delighted to now have everything in place to begin full-time in August 2020 as that gives me the best possible chance to plan for South Africa, but for the time being my focus is entirely on the Rugby World Cup and delivering a successful campaign for Wales.”
Gatland is unbeaten in two tours as head coach of the Lions, winning the Test series 2-1 against Australia in 2013 before a remarkable tie against New Zealand four years later – with the tourists drawing a dramatic final Test against the All Blacks.