Fans in the northern hemisphere have questioned the logistics of Warren Gatland’s new job after it was announced he will become the Chiefs’ new head coach from 2020,
Set to step down from his Wales role after the 2019 World Cup after 11 years in charge, the Kiwi has already been confirmed to lead the British and Irish Lions for the third time in South Africa in 2021. This means he will take a year out from coaching in Super Rugby and return in 2022.
However, questions have been asked as to how Gatland can remain committed to the Lions’ cause when he has nothing to do with northern hemisphere rugby.
Some fans have been quick to cite Gatland’s comments relating to Vern Cotter being part of his 2017 coaching team. Because Cotter moved to France with Montpellier, Gatland ruled him out, suggesting a coach should be based in the UK or Ireland.
Being the complete opposite side of the world has clearly not resonated well with these fans in light of those comments.
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Ever since Gatland was first appointed head coach of the Lions for the 2013 tour of Australia, fans from outside Wales feel their players are overlooked, particularly Scotland.
Being so alienated from northern hemisphere rugby will only make this worse, with some people feeling he will fall back even more on the Welsh players that he knows. This is what the fans have said:
So he is going to watch his prospective Lions from the other side of the world in 2020. What a load of bollocks. #BritishLions
— Iain Skelton (@ioskelton) June 27, 2019
No, can’t he just stay there and give the Lions back to the fans. What an embarrassment. He’s killed the Lions dead.
— Craig M (@Craig_M78) June 28, 2019
— Ryan Gilbert (@RyanGilbert79) June 28, 2019
If this is true, it makes the Lions appointment even more ridiculous… https://t.co/Fo6wS35Iki
— George H (@georgeheminway) June 27, 2019
No issue with his Lions appointment he was the stand out candidate. But sandwiched in between a role in NZ don’t feel right to me.
— Nathan Dark (@njdark7) June 27, 2019
Not a good call at all.
— Rusty Rascal (@Rusty_Rascal) June 27, 2019
Very different. He was still part of northern hemisphere rugby back then.
See his own words about Cotter going to France before the last tour. Surely being in a different hemisphere is worse?
— Martin welsh (@accts_cowboy) June 28, 2019
Nope, the spirit of the Lions requires it to be a coach based in the British Isles. Lions aren’t a pro club team, nor a pro national team, yet they are being run that way. The category that they come closest to is probably the BaBa’s. imo
— TVDirectorDavid (@DavidSmithTV) June 27, 2019
This will be more reason for him to turn to what he knows I.e Wales. Lions are fast becoming redundant
— Kevin Bulloch (@therealbag11) June 27, 2019
As Gatland is set to take a year off from the Chiefs in 2021, as he did when he was with the Wales team, some have said that it is no different to his previous Lions coaching jobs.
However, many feel this is very different as Gatland was based entirely in the northern hemisphere for the previous two tours.
It meant that while he was with Wales he was still able to scout players. On the other hand, his access to the players that he wants to watch will be far more limited in 2020 while he is with the Chiefs.
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Warren Gatland has been announced head coach of the Waikato Chiefs. #WarrenGatland #Chiefs #SuperRugby
Ultimately, it boils down to the tradition and values of the Lions, which some feel are being undermined with the coach being based in New Zealand.
Of course, there is nothing written to say where the head coach should be based, but there seems to be an unspoken rule amongst fans that they must be based in the UK or Ireland.
Then again, no one has ever disputed that Gatland is the best man for the job – and that is because he is one of the best coaches in the world.
WATCH: Warren Gatland expresses his delight at accepting his new role at the Chiefs
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