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Lions boss Warren Gatland linked to 'monstrous' Test role

By Ian Cameron
Warren Gatland. (Photo by Jeremy Ward/Photosport)

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British & Irish Lions supremo Warren Gatland has been linked to the head coach role at the US Eagles.

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The current director of rugby at the Chiefs in Super Rugby Pacific, Gatland’s name is reportedly been thrown around regarding taking over as head coach at the Eagles in 2023 after the current Rugby World Cup cycle.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Chris Foy says that there ‘are persistent rumours’ that Gatland will move stateside and take up a ‘monstrous mission’ to get the US back on track ahead of heading the Rugby World Cup in 2031.

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After a calamitous Super Rugby Aotearoa last in 2021, Gatland’s Chiefs are currently 4th in the inaugural Super Rugby Pacific log. While Gatland is clearly having a more successful 2022, the suspicion remains that the New Zealander’s heart truly lies in Test rugby.

It is seen as vital that the USA qualify for and give a good showing of themselves at both the 2023 and 2027 RWCs in order to galvanise interest in the sport in a country of more than 300 million people.

World Rugby want to replicate what the 1994 football world cup did for that sport’s popularity and give rugby a much-needed shot in the arm in the world’s biggest market.

The governing body’s biggest concern with awarding the tournament to the so-called ‘minnows’ will be filling their outsized NFL stadiums.

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While their domestic tournament the MLR has come on leaps and bounds in the last two seasons, the Eagles have been going through a rocky patch results-wise.

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Current head coach Gary Gold is in the business of securing their qualification for next year’s Rugby World Cup in France. The US have to beat Chile home and away in July if they are to make the tournament.

If they are successful, they will join England, Argentina, Japan and Samoa in Pool D.

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Gold told RugbyPass that while he was delighted the tournament was awarded to America, he was aware that more pressure had been placed on his side performing: “It is brilliant that this has happened and there is now something tangible that we can touch and move towards. But, if you are trying to build confidence in the host country then it is important you are competing at World Cups.

“It is important we are flying the flag at all the World Cups and each tournament is a stepping stone towards 2031. You want to give guys as much experience of World Cups as possible to have that knowledge and understanding and if you did miss out on one of those tournaments it wouldn’t be a game changer it just wouldn’t be ideal.”

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