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Warren Gatland

Warren Gatland coaching the British & Irish Lions in New Zealand in 2017

Gatland: I couldn’t turn my back on Lions

Wales head coach Warren Gatland admitted he couldn’t turn down the chance to coach the British & Irish Lions for the third time after he was confirmed as the man to lead the 2021 tour.

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Gatland is preparing Wales for this year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan which will be his final tournament in charge after being appointed in 2007.

After that he will enjoy some time off before focusing on the Lions once again and their trip to South Africa.

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It will mean Gatland will have completed the set of being head coach of the Lions against all three southern hemisphere giants – Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

“I think this will be my last Lions tour. I would have done the rounds. The challenge for me as a head coach is to go undefeated in a Test series,” Gatland said.

“If I was able to achieve that, and the squad were able to achieve that, it would be something pretty special. I have been extremely privileged to be involved and this will be my fourth tour.

“I am so thankful to be given the opportunity.”

Alongside his immense success with Wales – which has included three Six Nations Grand Slams – Gatland was forwards coach with the Lions in South Africa in 2009.

In 2013 he led the Lions to an historic 2-1 Test series victory over Australia and was in charge once again four years later as the pride of the northern hemisphere drew 1-1 with New Zealand.

“The Lions is unique. It’s special,” Gatland said.

“It’s the only team that does the traditional tours now. When you add in how important the fans are, the fans that travel and make that effort, that is special as well.

“When I thought about the atmosphere you get in the games from that sea of red, I couldn’t turn my back on it. I know it would have been something I’d have regretted for the rest of my life.”

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Gatland: I couldn’t turn my back on Lions
Gatland: I couldn’t turn my back on Lions
Gatland: I couldn’t turn my back on Lions
Gatland: I couldn’t turn my back on Lions
Gatland: I couldn’t turn my back on Lions
Gatland: I couldn’t turn my back on Lions
Gatland: I couldn’t turn my back on Lions
Gatland: I couldn’t turn my back on Lions
Gatland: I couldn’t turn my back on Lions
Gatland: I couldn’t turn my back on Lions
Gatland: I couldn’t turn my back on Lions
Gatland: I couldn’t turn my back on Lions