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Where Warren Gatland's Wales are poised to do the most damage

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Warren Gatland front-runner to replace Wayne Pivac - reports

By Ian Cameron
Ex Wales Coach Warren Gatland and Michael Cheika Head Coach of Argentina commentate during the Autumn International match between Wales and Australia at Principality Stadium on November 26, 2022 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)

Former British & Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland is being considered to return as Wales head coach to replace Wayne Pivac following their dismal Autumn Nation Series campaign.

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Wales suffered a humiliating 39-34 Autumn Nations Series defeat at the hands of a heavily depleted Wallabies side who somehow managed to fight back into the game in a thrilling second half in Cardiff.

It leaves Wales with just three wins in 2022 and Pivac under serious pressure to keep his job. A home loss to both Italy and Georgia in the same calendar year has certainly not helped the New Zealander and many believe the last-gasp loss to the Wallabies has sealed his fate.

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Steffan Thomas for The Times reported late last night that the WRU will hold a committee meeting this week and are considering hiring Gatland and Steve Tandy – or a combination of both – ahead of the Rugby World Cup next year in France.

Gatland is director of rugby at the Chiefs in Super Rugby Pacific back in New Zealand. The 59-year-old is currently in Wales and was an ever-present during Amazon Prime’s coverage of Wales’ dire Autumn Nations Series.

Tandy is the current defence coach of Scotland. He worked with Gatland during the 2021 Lions tour of South Africa and could come in as Gatland’s second in command.

Pivac was due to travel to France on Sunday for a World Cup reconnaissance mission, assessing Wales’ four pool-stage venues of Bordeaux, Nice, Lyon and Nantes.

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But whether he is in charge for the tournament appears increasingly unlikely, while Wales’ Six Nations opener against world number one team Ireland is less than 10 weeks away.

Pivac oversaw a Six Nations title success last year, when Wales were seconds away from winning the Grand Slam, and a first victory over the Springboks in South Africa, but the Georgia debacle came just eight months after a home defeat against Italy.

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In contrast, Gatland’s 12-year Wales reign was studded with success and consistent performances.

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Speaking immediately after the Australia defeat, Pivac said: “We review every competition, and we will do that and we have to take the positives out of the competition. Things that did not go well we can iron out.

“I certainly want to stay. You saw when we get things right we are a dangerous team.

“We have more players to come back into the side and the rest is up to other people.

“I am contracted through to the Rugby World Cup.”

Former Wales star Jamie Roberts, though, does not believe that Pivac is the man to lead a World Cup campaign.

“Regardless of the (Australia) result, I am not quite sure we have seen enough to warrant him taking us to the World Cup,” Roberts told Prime Video.

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“Obviously, he wants to stay, but I haven’t seen that performance regularly enough throughout the last 12 months to convince me that Wales can have a shot at winning the World Cup.

“Test match rugby is about winning, regardless of how you play. It is a results-driven business, it’s professional sport.

“I look at this objectively, and this year we have lost at home to Italy and Georgia for the first time in our history.

“If we want to dine at the top table of international rugby, that is not acceptable.”

Wales have scored the least tries of any Tier 1 nation in 2022.

additional reporting Press Association

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