Warren Gatland will lead the British and Irish Lions on his third tour as head coach in South Africa in 2021.


Here, Press Association Sport assesses how the New Zealander stacks up against the other three coaches to have led the Lions on multiple tours.

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Sir Ian McGeechan

Tours: 4 (1989, 1993, 1997, 2009)

Test record: Won 6, lost 6


The Scotsman has more tours to his name than any other coach, starting in 1989 when he led the Lions to victory in Australia by the narrowest-possible margin, winning the deciding third Test 19-18 and the series 2-1.

The tour of New Zealand four years later ended in defeat by the same 2-1 scoreline but McGeechan stayed on as joint coach with Jim Telfer for the 1997 2-1 series win over South Africa.

He returned to the fray for the 2-1 defeat to South Africa in 2009, the year before he was knighted for services to rugby.

McGeechan, Tait talk

Scotland coach Ian McGeechan and Alan Tait talk during training at the 2003 World Cup in Australia (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)


Warren Gatland

Tours: 2 (2013, 2017, appointed for 2021)

Test record: Won 3, lost 2, drawn 1

Having assisted McGeechan as forwards coach in 2009, Gatland took the top job for 2013’s tour of Australia and secured a 2-1 series success with a thumping 41-16 in the deciding Test in Sydney.

He also presided over the tied series against New Zealand last time out, rounded off by a 15-15 draw in Auckland, and will become the only man other than McGeechan to complete the set of the modern-day southern hemisphere powers when his side tackle South Africa in two years’ time.

Gatland embraces Guirado

Warren Gatland talks to Guilhem Guirado after Wales beat France in Oita (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

James Baxter

Tours: 2 (1927, 1930)

Test record: Won 5, lost 4

The 1927 tour of Argentina saw Baxter’s squad win the Test series 4-0, by a combined 160 points to three – including their tour matches, they conceded only nine points in as many games.

That was enough to earn Baxter, a forward in his playing days as well as an Olympic medallist in sailing, the job for 1930 when the Lions lost 3-1 in a series of close matches against New Zealand and were then beaten 6-5 in a one-off Test against Australia.

Jim Telfer

Tours: 2 (1983, 1997)

Test record: Won 2, lost 5

A decent record with Scotland earned Telfer the job for the 1983 tour, where the All Blacks inflicted a 4-0 whitewash.

He returned for a second spell with his national team and joined McGeechan for the 1997 Lions tour as joint coaches, delivering the memorable “Everest” team talk to the forwards ahead of the first Test and improving his record with that 2-1 series win over the Springboks.


Jim Telfer during Scotland training at Currie Rugby Football Club in 1998 Credit: Jamie McDonald /Allsport

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