The Kiwi has verbally accepted the head coach role for the third time

Warren Gatland agrees to lead Lions to South Africa in 2021

Warren Gatland has verbally agreed a deal to take the British & Irish Lions on tour to South Africa in 2021. It will be the New Zealander’s third tour in a row as head coach.

Although no paperwork has been signed yet, it is understood that terms have been agreed between the coach and the Lions officials. Gatland – who will leave his post as Wales boss at the conclusion of Rugby World Cup 2019 –will be handed the reigns again after his two successful previous trips, leading a winning tour of Australia in 2013 and a drawn series against the All Blacks in 2017.

Gatland was also an assistant to Sir Ian McGeechan on the last Lions tour of South Africa, in 2009.

A start date for the coach has yet to be finalised, but it is likely that Gatland, currently in New Zealand, will get his feet under the desk a year out from the tour.

Warren Gatland agrees to lead Lions to South Africa in 2021

Mucking in: Gatland working as an assistant in 2009 (Getty Images)

First Gatland has the small matter of negotiating World Cup Pool D with Australia, Georgia, Fiji and Uruguay. Since taking the Welsh job in December 2007, Gatland has led his team to three Grand Slams, finished fourth at the 2011 World Cup and become the longest-serving coach in their history. Gatland also led Wasps to three Premiership titles, one European Challenge Cup and one Champions Cup win.

Gatland also coached Ireland between 1998 and 2001.

Before the deciding Test match of the last tour, in New Zealand, Gatland said of his charges: “You want those big moments in sport. The players have an opportunity to leave a legacy, to do something special. You don’t want those moments to pass you by.” It looks like the former hooker could not turn down another big moment with the Lions.

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