Warren Gatland will make it a hat-trick of Lions tours as head coach when he guides the best of Britain and Ireland to South Africa in two years’ time

Warren Gatland to coach 2021 Lions in South Africa

Warren Gatland will coach the British & Irish Lions for the 2021 tour to South Africa.

The New Zealander’s appointment has been reported for the last few weeks and was confirmed by Lions managing director Ben Calveley at an announcement in London.

The 2021 tour will be Gatland’s third as head coach and fourth as part of the Lions coaching team having been an assistant to Ian McGeechan in South Africa in 2009.

Warren Gatland to coach 2021 Lions in South Africa

Roaring Lions: Warren Gatland celebrates after the drawn series with New Zealand in 2017 (Getty Images)

His exclusive contract will run from August 2020 until the end of the 2021 tour, giving Gatland the opportunity to be involved in the planning of the tour’s logistic elements.

“I’m incredibly excited,” says Gatland. “South Africa is a great country to tour, with a proud rugby history and tradition. It’s a tough place to tour but I’m excited about the challenges ahead.

“The hospitality in South Africa will be amazing and I’m looking forward to the journey over the next two years and what will be a tough rugby challenge in South Africa.”

Gatland had said after the last Lions tour to New Zealand that he hated parts of the experience, but he has been persuaded to take up the reins again. South Africa 2021 will see Gatland complete a hat-trick of tours as head coach after winning the series in Australia in 2013 and drawing with the All Blacks in 2017.

“The challenge for me as head coach is to go undefeated in a Test series,” he says. “That would be pretty special.

“I love the Lions concept. Parts of the New Zealand tour were incredibly challenging, but reflecting back, the hospitality we had there and the atmosphere at the games was incredible.”

Calveley admitted the Lions had solely focused on securing Gatland for the role, saying: “We had one candidate in mind and we made sure we got him.”

The schedule for the 2021 tour to South Africa has yet to be confirmed, but will feature eight matches, including three Tests against the Springboks.

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