The rugby world had grand plans for Chiefs head coach Warren Gatland over the next four years, but few would have accounted for the roadblock he has hit over the past two months. Having become the two-time Super Rugby winners’ head coach at the beginning of the year following 11 years with Wales, the blueprint seemed to be that he would embark on his third tour with the British and Irish Lions in 2021, before ascending to take charge of the All Blacks after that.
However, with an unprecedented losing streak and zero wins from their opening six matches in Super Rugby Aotearoa, new questions are being asked about Gatland and plans may be changing.
Recently crowned the best coach in the world by Rugby World, Gatland would have known the burgeoning expectation that awaited him upon his return to Hamilton. Indeed, his tenure started well, with the Chiefs winning four of their opening six matches of the regular Super Rugby season.
Unfortunately, a slight slump during the enforced break from the COVID-19 pandemic meant his side have been scrambling for confidence in a competition where there are no easy games.
In light of this poor run, fans have not held back on social media, with many feeling his northern hemisphere style is not suited in Super Rugby. That had long been the fear for some fans, and there is no doubt that many will feel vindicated by this barren spell Gatland’s side are enduring.
While the bulk of his silverware throughout his career has been in the northern hemisphere, it must be noted that he did with the Air New Zealand Cup with Waikato in 2006. On top of that, this season has at times been a masterclass by the Chiefs in blowing leads.
Gatland’s men could not hold onto a 17-14 second-half advantage at the weekend against the Blues, eventually losing 21-14. That was eclipsed by the 79th minute drop-goal landed by his very own son, Bryn, against the Highlanders in round one. Those two losses pale into insignificance compared to squandering a 24-point lead against the same team in round six.
So while only a few marginal changes in each match could have provided a completely different complexion to the season for the Chiefs, supporters are growing increasingly impatient.
When are we having this chat about Warren Gatland?
— #EndGBV (@ClixWell) July 26, 2020
Which team will Gatland coach after the Lions' Tour next year and why do you think it will be Bay of Plenty under 19?
— Hugo (@HugoVHeerden) July 26, 2020
Just a reminder Warren Gatland is a massive fraud.
— Seb Parker (@Seb_Parker) July 26, 2020
Crazy how the Chiefs are struggling to score tries even with McKenzie and co in the team.. Gatland's Northern Hemisphere effect? https://t.co/pHqHJyTDIS
— Reza (@Reza_Gasant) July 5, 2020
Gatland taking time to adapt to the south. A game plan over three Tests against a SH nation is very different to having a style of play that is successful week in an week out
— Matt (@Matt_W87) July 26, 2020
Gatland can take his Welsh style all the way back up his valley I reckon.
Clearly he’s coached the Chiefs running play out of them and the defence is a joke.
Thank fuck he won’t get the All Blacks job. Not that it matters in the ongoing Covid world.
— Sam (@sdn79nz) July 26, 2020
Haha. So much for Gatland being the worlds best coach. Lost every game for the chiefs, never beat the All Blacks with wales, never won a World Cup or even made the final. But yeah sure worlds best. Such a joke.
— Sith of Tsushima (@GunSlin14083067) July 19, 2020
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