Warren Gatland to coach British and Irish Lions for 2021 tour of South Africa

Warren Gatland will once again be in charge of the British and Irish Lions
Warren Gatland will once again be in charge of the British and Irish Lions

Warren Gatland has been confirmed the head coach of the British and Irish Lions for the third consecutive time when they head to South Africa in 2021.

In the process, the 55-year-old becomes just the second person after Sir Ian McGeechan to coach the Lions for a third time.

Gatland, who helped Wales to four Six Nations titles including three Grand Slams worked as an assistant coach of the Lions in 2009 before taking the head coach role during the 2013 series win over Australia and the 2017 drawn series against New Zealand.

With England coach Eddie Jones already turning down the offer, Gatland was an obvious choice for the role despite he is set to exit Wales role at the end of the World Cup scheduled later this year.

“I’m hugely honoured and delighted to lead the Lions again,” said Gatland.

“It is exciting and a great challenge to coach the best players from the four Home Nations. The Lions rightly have a truly special place in the game and I jumped at the chance to be involved again when I was approached about the role.”

This will also be the second time Gatland will be with the Lions when they tour South Africa after being the forwards coach of the side during the 2009 tour when they lost the series 2-1.

“South Africa is a special place to play rugby,” added Gatland.

“They have some of the most iconic stadiums in the world which will be packed full of passionate fans, and the Springboks have shown in recent times that they are back to being one of the dominant forces in the game.

“Having toured there in 2009, I know the scale of the task ahead of us - playing in South Africa presents a number of unique challenges such as playing at altitude, while the Boks will always be physical, aggressive and highly motivated.

“History tells you it’s a tough place to tour, but I am 100 per cent confident that we can go there and win - I would not be here if I felt differently.”