The former All Blacks hooker has an impressive coaching record
Who is Warren Gatland: Ten things you should know about the Lions head coach
Warren Gatland impressed as a hooker in his playing days before carving out an impressive coaching career.
He played against the British & Irish Lions for Waikato in 1993 and has since been on three tours as a coach, working as an assistant to Ian McGeechan in 2009 before taking charge in 2013 (Australia) and 2017 (New Zealand). He is head coach again for the Lions 2021 tour to South Africa.
Here are a few more facts about the experienced coach.
Ten things you should know about Warren Gatland
1. Warren Gatland was born on 17 September 1963 in Hamilton, New Zealand.
2. Gatland played 17 games for the All Blacks as hooker between 1988 and 1991, scoring two tries, but never won a Test cap in the period when New Zealand played 29 Tests. He went on four tours with his country but could not dislodge Sean Fitzpatrick from the No 2 jersey.
“Those experiences with the All Blacks and me sat on the bench a number of times behind Fitzy, remember in those days you could only be replaced for an injury, made me a better coach,” he said.
3. Gatland won the Rugby Union Writers’ Club Special Award for 2013 after the British & Irish Lions series win in Australia. He received a case of wine and some glasses… Previous winners include Bob Dwyer, Francois Pienaar, Sir Clive Woodward, Sir Ian McGeechan, Cliff Morgan and Jim Telfer.
He was also voted the greatest-ever rugby coach by Rugby World readers in 2020.
4. Gatland was award a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List of 2020, Alun Wyn Jones got his OBE in the same list and former Wales skipper Gareth Thomas was also handed a CBE (for services to sport and health).
5. In 1996, when Gatland was head of sport at Hamilton Boys’ High School in New Zealand, he was called at 4am by Billy Glynn inviting to coach Connacht for 12 weeks and on a pre-season trip to Sweden. Three months later he was director of rugby at the Irish province and his coaching career was taking off.
He went on to coach Ireland and Wasps, where he won three Premiership titles and a European Cup.
6. Gatland and his wife Trudi have two children, Bryn and Gabby.
Bryn, a fly-half/full-back, was pitted against his father when he represented the New Zealand Barbarians versus the Lions in 2017. Gatland Jnr scored two points, a conversion, in a 13-7 defeat for the hosts in Whangarei.
After spells at the Blues and Highlanders Bryn signed for the Chiefs in December 2020.
Gabby is a solicitor in New Zealand. Tragically the Gatlands lost an infant daughter, Shauna, to spina bifida, in 1992.
7. Gatland spent 12 years as Wales coach, during which time he guided the country to Rugby World Cup semi-finals, in 2011 and 2019, and three Six Nations Grand Slams – in 2008, 2012 and 2019.
8. Shane Williams, Lawrence Dallaglio and Sitiveni Sivivatu were named by Gatland as the best players he has coached on the BBC’s Rugby Union Weekly podcast. He coached Williams with Wales, Dallaglio with Wasps and wing Sivivatu Waikato at Waikato.
Of Dallaglio he said: “He’d talk the talk and then walk the walk.” Sivivatu had “the ability to make up moves during a game from the wing” according to the coach.
9. Gatland’s Gate at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff was opened in 2019. It is situated, at what was Gate 4, where the players enter the ground on match days.
10. Away from rugby Gatland is a big horse racing fan and a regular visitor to the Cheltenham Festival. He has owned horses in New Zealand, one called Rolling Maul, with some mates, which he said was about as fast as a rolling maul.
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