Warren Gatland will soon be gone from Wales but he will never be forgotten at the Principality Stadium as the ground’s main vehicle entrance – gate four – will now be known as “Gatland’s Gate”.
Gatland served Wales over a twelve-year period and will say farewell on Saturday when he coaches the Barbarians against a Welsh side now coached by Wayne Pivac.
He is Wales’ longest-serving head coach having reigned twice as long as his nearest rival Clive Rowlands, who completed six years in the hot seat from 1968 to 1974, and his achievement of three Grand Slams is only matched by the famous side of the 1970s (which won three Slams but under different coaches) and the team from the first ‘golden era’ which won in 1908, 1909 and 1911 (when the head coach role had not yet been conceived).
“This building will always be a very special place for me,” said Gatland about Principality Stadium. “It evokes a host of wonderful memories and has been the location for some of my very best days in rugby.
“It embodies all the emotion that goes with winning big games, but also the hard work, dedication and passion of everyone involved at every stage from players to staff and to my own family and to the fans themselves.
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“This a hugely unexpected honour and one that I am humbled by. I’d like to thank all the staff at the union, the players, my fellow coaches and back room staff and everyone throughout Welsh rugby for their passion, respect and belief over the last twelve years.”
‘Gatland’s Gate’ guards the main access route to Principality Stadium. Situated on the east side of the ground, it services Westgate Street and sits between the newly WRU-owned Westgate Hotel and the WRU shop and tours office.
The sign, which gives equal prominence to both the Welsh and English language, will be replaced in the long term by an integrated and elaborate design which will form an integral part of the gates themselves, but the entrance will be known as ‘Gatland’s Gate’ with immediate effect.
“This is a small tribute of our appreciation for Warren, a token of the high esteem in which he is held throughout Welsh rugby,” explained WRU CEO Martyn Phillips
“He will always be remembered as the coach who brought home a hat-trick of Grand Slams but, beyond the silverware, he also firmly re-established our Wales side as a major force in the world game.
“He has re-invigorated a level of pride and respect for our national sport not so keenly felt since the likes of the great Clive Rowlands and John Dawes oversaw their own halcyon period 40 years and more ago.
‘The players are all back next week and I’ll have to start selecting… back row is definitely somewhere we have genuine pressure’
– Dean Ryan tells @OwainJTJones about the welcome selection headaches he faces at unfancied @dragonsrugby https://t.co/3g11Efiux7
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“We will move on and our national team will continue to strive for success and, I have no doubt, achieve great things under our new head coach Wayne Pivac, but Warren’s entry in the history books can never be re-written.
“He will go down in legend as one of the all-time greats and we hope that ‘Gatland’s Gate’ does something to show him the strength of gratitude felt by an entire nation of rugby fans.”
WATCH: Warren Gatland on what it will be like taking on his old team Wales this weekend as Barbarians coach
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