Gatland will take charge of upcoming Six Nations and Rugby World Cup
Warren Gatland returns for Wales as Wayne Pivac sacked
Gatland will take charge of Wales ahead of the 2023 Six Nations and Rugby World Cup with the ability to continue in the role through the next World Cup cycle up to and including the 2027 World Cup in Australia.
The 59-year-old spent 12 years as Wales coach before leaving after their fourth-place finish at the last World Cup in 2019 when he was replaced by fellow New Zealander Pivac.
Wales endured a dismal autumn, losing to Georgia for the first time ever and throwing away a 21-point lead against Australia in what proved to be Pivac’s final game in charge.
“I’m very much looking forward to returning to coach Wales,” said Gatland, who has left his role as director of rugby at Super Rugby side Waikato Chiefs with immediate effect.
“This is an opportunity to achieve something with a talented group of players in a country so passionate about rugby. A country which made my family and I so welcome, when we first arrived fifteen years ago, and all the time we were there.
“Our immediate priority is obviously the 2023 Guinness Six Nations and next year’s Rugby World Cup.
“There is little time for sentiment, professional sport is all about preparation, values and results. There will be new challenges as there always is with a change in head coach, but for me the environment, the players and their families will always come first.
“We must prepare to the best of our ability in the time available. We will value and respect each other, we will work hard and, if we get this right together, performances and results will follow.”
Wayne Pivac sacked
Pivac said he was extremely sad to stand down from the role but admitted his side were unable to play good rugby consistently enough after taking responsibility for poor results.
He said: “I am obviously extremely sad to stand down from the role.
“It was a speedy review process post-Autumn Nations Series as time is of the essence with the Six Nations fast approaching. Unfortunately, the results or performances this year were not all as we hoped. As a group we all take responsibility for that, but me in particular as head coach.
“We have played some really good rugby at times, but needed to do that more consistently. However, I know that there is a strong foundation for the squad to progress to great things in the future.
“I would like to thank the players, coaches, management and the WRU for their commitment, support and hard work in my time as head coach and to all the people in Wales for making me feel at home here over the past eight years.”
WRU chief executive Steve Phillips said it was a tough call to remove Pivac from his post but has moved swiftly to bring back Wales’ most successful and longest serving coach just 279 days before their opening World Cup game against Fiji.
He said: “This is one of the toughest calls to make in sport, but the review process has reached its conclusion and we have acted quickly and efficiently in the very best interests of our national team.
“Ultimately we are in the results business and we have agreed with Wayne that the current trajectory for Wales is not where we want it to be and we thank him sincerely for his time, enthusiasm, diligence and effort, which is unquestioned, as head coach over the last three years.”
Phillips insisted Gatland’s return is not a short-term solution to Wales’ problems with the potential for him to have coached the country at five World Cups by the time 2027 comes around.
He added: “In Warren we are bringing in one of the very best coaches in the international game.
“We were sorry to see him go when he left and we are delighted that he has agreed to return.
“We know him well and, most importantly, he knows us well too. We are extremely excited about this latest chapter for Wales and Warren Gatland and I know the feeling is mutual.
“He will undoubtedly be able to make an immediate impact, just as he did when he joined us for the first time in 2008. But it has also been important to both parties to ensure we get absolute maximum gain out of the return of such an experienced and highly regarded individual.
“It is for this reason that we are particularly pleased to have been able to secure Warren’s services for the next few years with the ability to go to the 2027 Rugby World Cup.
“This appointment is no quick fix, nor sticking plaster, it is part of our long term planning for the game in Wales.
“We have been able to take swift action in difficult circumstances and that is testament to the good grace and professionalism of Wayne and the efficiency of our review process.”
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